Houghton battled to the whistle against mid-table Seaton Carew on Saturday, but slipped to a 24-22 defeat in Durham/Northumberland Division Two.
The end to end game saw Houghton chase every point that Seaton put on the board, matching their four tries, though a lack of conversions left the hosts just short, although they picked up a losing bonus point.
Seaton kicked tactically from the off, gaining yards into the hosts half, but Houghton were able to hold off the visitors with crucial catches from Graeme Bennett and Jason Wright and a couple of surges forward from Gary Shepherd.
The visitors opened up the scoring with a converted try after a dangerous scrum inside the home 22, but Houghton replied with force as they retained play between the 22s, and a great run from Daniel Bearn on the blind side put the hosts back on the attack.
Seaton were able to speed through the home defence as missed tackles put them on the board again with an unconverted try to lead 12-0 in the 24th minute.
But Houghton kept fighting and turned the ball over in defence before securing their first points of the game shortly before the interval, with a catch and drive from the line-out sending Glen Atkinson over the line to cut the deficit to 12-5.
Straight after half-time, fired-up Houghton were straight back on the attack, with runs from Rob Hebron supported by Atkinson and Wright. The wing opened up and Brett Henderson pounced for his first try of the season, to bring the Dairy Lane men back to 12-10.
Houghton succumbed to the visitors’ speed once more, though, as Seaton opened up the lead with a further 12 points to take a comfortable 24-10 advantage into the closing stages.
Houghton creeped into the visitors’ half with an interception from Bearn, and, making the most of their positioning, they went through the phases to propel Richard Lydiatt under the posts, with Bearn converting to make it a seven-point game.
A great catch from Bennett sent Marc Wiley haring down the wing and into Seaton’s half. The ball continued to travel in the hands of the hosts as Glen Crowther travelled off the scrum with support from Shepherd, Bearn and Danny Wolfe.
Houghton marked the last points on the board in the 76th minute as Bennett sent Wiley wide on the wing and over the line for five points, with the unconverted try leaving the hosts two points shy of the draw.
– Clarissa Murphy