Raiders Run Riot

Stan Calvert takes first steps towards Newcastle Uni.

An imperious display from the Raiders ensured that Newcastle kicked off their defence of the Stan Calvert Cup in the best possible way as the Northumbria Mustangs were dispatched 56-14 at Gateshead.

The Raiders dominated from the first whistle, and after holding the Mustangs to a 3 and out on the first possession took just three plays to drive 64 yards as rookie George Howlett broke clear for a 58-yard score.

James Harte then capped off a 6-play, 58 yard drive, as he bounced to the outside for an 8 yard score. This time the two-point conversion succeeded as the Raiders took a 14-0 lead.

The Raiders run clear of the Mustangs defence

That lead was soon extended to 20-0 as again the Mustangs offence spluttered and Harte grabbed his second score as he ran in from 32 yards with a great jinking run, making several tacklers miss.

A rare sight as the Mustangs defence gets a hold of running back James Harte

Things then got from bad to worse for Northumbria as the Raiders forced and recovered a fumble, finding the end zone just two plays later as offensive captain Ben Cross extended the lead to 26-0. Cross scored again on the next Raiders drive and a 2-pt conversion gave them a 34-point advantage with their opponents yet to earn a first down.

Punt formation: an all too familiar site for Mustangs fans on Sunday

The Raiders came out hard in the 3rd quarter, special team’s captain Ryan Weeks’ opening kick return to the 43 providing a true highlight of the game.

This set up a 47 yard drive that culminated in Mike Stone finding the end-zone as the Raiders took a 42-0 lead, nailing the Mustang’s coffin well and truly shut.

Ryan Weeks’ elongated kick return opens up the second half

To their credit, Northumbria never backed down and either side of Cross’ hat-trick touchdown, they battled in to the end zone and then capitalized on a Raider’s fumble to give some measure of respectability to the score.

However, the Raiders had the last word, a final touchdown putting the icing on the cake as they secured a crushing 56-14 victory over their great rivals.

MVP goes to Cross for his three touchdowns but special mention goes to defensive tackle Will Davis, whose dominance at the line of scrimmage ensured the Mustangs offence never moved out of first gear.

The game also marked stalwart Andrew Skelton’s last home game for the Raiders in his fifth season with the side.

The Raiders improve to 4-3 and harbour genuine play-off ambitions as they move to the end of the season with real momentum, while the Mustangs fall to a disappointing 2-5 as the season’s end approaches.

Watch the game’s biggest hits: