Wild Rovers tamed !
Castle hit the road again, leaving Barnie’s snow showers for the tropical paradise of the east coast.
Hartlepool Rovers 8 Barnard Castle 29
Castle hit the road again, leaving Barnie’s snow showers for the tropical paradise of the east coast. Rovers are never an easy team to face on their own patch especially in a steady light rain and on a stodgy surface. Castle welcomed back Potts and Larder to the squad although Larder had a frustrating afternoon moving on an off the pitch quicker than a fiddlers elbow.
The first five minutes were fairly even with both sides mounting attacks and doing their best to spin the ball wide but both finding that the defences were sound. With the slippery conditions the first knock on was surprisingly long in coming. When it did, the home pack was ignominiously shunted backwards which ran warning bells to the home faithful and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. From the back of the Castle scrum Harvey Barkes
sniped blind and then from a series of pick and go’s from the base ultimately it was Chris Strong
on the ball for the touchdown
Castle moved further ahead on twenty minutes. Flyhalf Greg Upton
underclubbed a crossfield kick to winger Lucas Summers
who had to move infield to collect it. Taking the ball into contact he sucked in the Rovers loose forwards and when the ball was recycled to Castle’s own back row out on the left, there was ample room for Rob Stanwix
to stride imperiously through for an easy score.
Trailing 0-12, Rovers then came back into the game and from a lineout up close to the Barnie line, their useful No.8 broke off from the back of a fragmenting maul and forced his way over for a good individual score.
Castle’s third try was something of a forwards gem. Penalised some 20 metres out right in front of the posts, skipper Michael Hughes
turned down an easy kick at goal in favour of a scrum. Rovers were unable to take the pressure and gradually gave more and more ground. With the referee already playing a good penalty advantage the Rovers scrum was gradually reversed back and back all the way over their own line, where No.8 Rob Stanwix
had the easiest of scores.
Again, Rovers came back and had their best passage of the play in the match but this time from their lineout drive, Castle spoilt the ball and although it went down the backline, the move was snuffed out albeit the Castle backs were deemed offside and the hosts popped over a penalty on the halftime whistle.
In the second half Castle started with more of a kicking game in an effort to try and play more of the match in the opposition half however the game became very scrappy. Rovers went down to fourteen men after their 8 was sinbinned for punching in what was otherwise a relatively good tempered encounter. With coach Junior on for Larder nursing a bruised hooter on the touchline, all of a sudden there was more progress through the inside channel.
Big Chris Wearmouth
was suddenly in the mix again and after he stole a Rovers lineout close to their own line, Barnie had a number of surges for the line that led to a succession of scrum penalties. Again Rovers were under the cosh and once more Stanwix was the beneficiary at 8. With Upton slotting over the conversion at 8-26, Castle were easing away and had the bonus point try.
Nonetheless Rovers came back into the game in the final quarter assisted by Castle being reduced to thirteen men after first Adam West was binned for preventing Rovers taking a quick tap penalty and then skipper Mike Hughes followed after a high-tackle in the red-zone.
Barnie though showed their tough credentials as Strong, Kicks and Wearmouth combined to prevent the Rovers ball being recycled close to their line and winning the scrum for the defence. Needless to say this allowed Castle to clear their lines and then Souter won clean lineout ball to create the final and best try of the game. From the next lineout Wearmouth laid beautiful ball down to Barkes who fed Upton and onto Junior. The coach’s deft no look, back of the hand pass to Stanwix allowed the 8 to make huge ground before being tackled by the fullback, Junior cleared out, Barkes, Upton and Brookes all shipped the ball like a bullet to lock forward Dan Potts coming up the left wing like an express train, who dived over from about three metres out. A great try to conclude the game. Man of the Match for his hard work in the loose all afternoon was Chris Strong
. This Saturday sees a brief break before hosting Redcar on 17th Feb.