In an otherwise tight local derby, the final minutes proved to be the downfall of the home team, as they probably thought that they had done enough to secure the victory. However, the visitors applied the pressure until the final whistle, as games like these have a habit of being decided on the finest of margins.
DMPRFC were on the attack from the first whistle, but lost the ball in contact. A kick out of defence by the home side appeared to have cleared the danger to the half way line, but DMPRFC scrum half had other ideas. He gathered the ball on the half way line, took a glance at the posts and a couple of steps and then launched an audacious drop goal at the posts. With the wind assisting, the accuracy was true and West Hartlepool were behind after 23 seconds (0 – 3).
Both sides and the crowd appeared stunned by the event, but it was West Hartlepool who intiially responded the better and after some good midfield progress, a deft pass allowed the try out wide (5 – 3), three minutes later.
Fly half Tom Hodgson
put the visitors back in front with a well struck penalty on ten minutes (5 – 6), then appeared to blot his copybook with two misses from similar positions. However ,his glory was yet to materialise.
The game then was littered with penalties and uneventful midfield reset scrummages, with neither side producing anything of quality and both sides frustrated with events. The official found it necessary on occasions to speak to both captains during this period as some fractious play threatened to spoil proceedings.
As oranges arrived, the crowd were quite rightly disappointed with the display up until that point and were hopeful of something to get excited about after the interval.
West Hartlepool made a change at the interval, but DMPRFC chose not to at that stage.
With no tries registered, DMPRFC thoughts were focussed in that direction, however it was West Hartlepool who scored another try. DMPRFC tried to run it out of defence, but were stopped by some good attacking defence, allowing the ball to be re-gathered by the home side who, after some good interplay, cut through for the score (10 – 6). The conversion was successful (12 – 6) and DMPRFC appeared as though they were lacking in some kind of response.
This was further underlined with a penalty success for the home side (15 – 6) as they pushed for the victory.
Some further changes were made by both sides in an attempt to spark up events.
There appeared to be a tangible acceptance of the win by West Hartlepool at this stage, which was sensed by the visitors, who began to crank up proceedings, resulting in a good try by Tom Schofield
(15 – 11) after pressure was applied to an otherwise decent home defence. The conversion was slotted HOME by Tom Hodgson
(15 – 13), as the game began to spring into life.
West Hartlepool had one last throw of their dice and eased further in front with a well taken penalty as DMPRFC transgressed at the restart (18 – 13).
As the clock ticked down and into injury time, DMPRFC took the bull by the horns and cranked it up as best they could, but all appeared lost as West Hartlepool were awarded the scrum after a seemingly final attack.
The scrum was taken by DMPRFC against the head and the ball found its way to Cameron MITCHELL. With three home defenders running to try to cut off the try, the centre cut inside for the score (18 – 18) to level things up with the conversion to come.
The conversion, in view of some previous misses by Tom Hodgson
, appeared to be too wide out and against the wind, making it very missable.
As he kicked the ball, the sighs from DMPRFC supporters were easily heard, as the ball initially set off missing, until the wind assisted the trajectory and allowed the ball to sail over (18 – 20) to the jubilation of the player, his playing colleagues and visiting supporters.
There was still time for a re-start, but once West Hartlepool, who were naturally gutted by events along with their supporters, were adjudged to have offended by the official on the last play, the ball was kicked into touch from the resultant penalty, allowing DMPRFC to snatch victory, which West Hartlepool had thought was theirs too early.