PROMOTED Seaham saw off their neighbours Houghton, but only just in a tight local derby match that was full of passion.
A youthful Houghton side seemed in no mood to roll over and let Seaham enjoy their promotion party.
In fact, from the start they looked determined to spoil their hosts’ fine record at the Leisure Centre this season and wreck their aspirations of clinching the league title.
Following a frantic opening five minutes played at a furious pace, Houghton opened the scoring after Seaham had strayed offside in front of their posts. The visitors’ fly-half punished them with a fine kick to earn an early 3-0 lead.
Seaham centre Glen Hardie was forced into touch five metres short, but the hosts got their reward when Brad Green fed Joey Jones for his 12th try of the season to clinch a 5-3 lead.
Jones had to then go off with a leg injury in the 17th minute, replaced by Henry Brace.
Houghton took full advantage to earn two kickable penalties, both of which were converted to turn around with a four-point lead at the interval.
Seaham came back strongly in the second half, however, and prop Paul Scott picked up and barrelled his way over for his sixth try of the season to regain the lead. Green’s conversion took the lead to 12-9.
Just after the hour mark, the referee spotted a Houghton flanker in an offside position and awarded Seaham a penalty. Full back Graeme Steel stepped up and slotted the ball through the posts for a 15-9 lead.
Houghton attacked vigorously, but the hosts, marshalled by skipper Ben Bell and Brace, defended valiantly to hold on for the win, though they stay second after leaders Prudhoe and Stocksfield romped home 69-5 at Richmondshire.
Seaham, on 78 points, are six points behind Prudhoe, having played one game less.