HORDEN made it three wins out of three against Durham and Northumberland Division One’s top trio as their brilliant run shows no signs of ending.
After defeating promotion favourites Alnwick and Guisborough in back-to-back Welfare Park triumphs, they scored a hard-fought 18-16 success at third-placed Gateshead on Saturday.
Horden made a dream start with a pushover try from their first visit to the Gateshead 22.
The hosts conceded a series of penalties, which saw the number eight sin-binned.
From the final award, Horden opted for a scrum and they pushed Gateshead back over their own line for Paul James to touch down.
Gateshead landed a penalty to cut the away lead to 5-3, but Horden were taking the game to the Low Fell outfit with strong runs by James and Richie Thirkell carrying them over the gain line.
And, in the 22, Andrew Raine spotted a hole in the blindside defence and darted through from 15 metres out to score a try which Craig Jones converted superbly from wide out.
Gateshead moved the ball wide through their three-quarters and looked certain to score only to be denied by a try-saving tackle from David Heckles on the visitors.
Newton Turton was then sin-binned but Horden’s defence remained strong and they reached half-time still nine points in front.
Gateshead started strongly in the second period and took the first points from a penalty.
Much of the next 20 minutes was a tough battle, neither side having any clear-cut chances with resolute defence being shown by both sides.
Horden turned down a penalty shot in the Gateshead 22 to instead go for what would be a potential match-clinching try.
However, they lost the line-out throw and Gateshead not only cleared the danger, they moved the ball wide and broke through with good support play giving them a converted try.
All of a sudden, instead of opening up a lead of two scores, Horden found themselves 13-12 down.
Gateshead had their tails up and sniffed a win.
But the Horden forwards squeezed the life out of Gateshead at scrum time which gave the visitors opportunities to gain ground through penalties.
With 10 minutes left, Horden got another penalty in a similar position to the previous one.
This time the decision was to kick for goal and Andrew Turner slotted it home to put his side 15-13 up.
A break by Michael Turner and quick recycling and driving by the forwards won Horden another penalty which Andrew Turner knocked it over to make it 18-13.
Gateshead replied shortly afterwards with a penalty of their own to cut the deficit to 18-16 and set up a nervous last five minutes.
But Horden worked the ball into their 22 and ran the clock down through a series of pick and drives.
Raine even thought he had pinched his second try in the last move of the match but the ref judged his foot was in touch.
However, the four points belonged to Horden.
H Houghton cruised to a fourth successive win in Durham and Northumberland Division Three, impressively routing visitors Richmondshire 57-7 at Dairy Lane. They stay third in the table, but out of contention for promotion to Division Two, with leaders Hartlepool BBOB and second-top Whitby 30 and 21 points better off respectively.
Washington produced a fighting display to only go down 29-22 at sixth-placed Yarm.
H Bottom club Durham City were beaten 50-22 by visitors Morley on Saturday to move closer to confirmation of their relegation from North One East – it was their 20th defeat in 21 games.