An equally vital bonus point won.
Craic: After a week of "on or off?" the Green and Whites took the field again at Kingston Park against local rivals, Ponteland, who lay 5 points behind us near the bottom of D&N 1. The Falcons' 3G pitch became available with a 4.30 kick-off.
Match: Under a cloudy, drizzely sky, Gosforth kicked off in this crucial game. The kick directly into touch seemed to set the tone of the encounter in the first half. Ponteland were very much on the front foot with GRFC conceding five penalties in the opening ten minutes - one of these also saw Mathew Struthers
receiving a yellow card for a late tackle. In his absence the visitors scored a try from close-in to go 7-0 up. After some "to and fro" play by both sides, skipper Andy Black
stroked over a penalty on fifteen minutes (7-3 down). There then followed some good attacking passages of play by the teams, with the visitors again having the best of the positional play - again aided by several penalties in their favour. A series of re-set scrums on the home five metres line led to a further Pont penalty under the posts, which was duly converted to leave them 10-3 up on thirty minutes. The visitors' pack were disrupting our scrums, which wasn't helped with the ubiquitous Darren Kelly
having to leave the field with an ankle injury. The reliable Andy Scott took his place with Andy Black
reverting to No 8. On thirty-eight minutes Ponteland broke from their own half with some powerful play, resulting in a well-taken try in the corner - making the half-time score 15-3 to Pont.
The start of the second-half saw a much improved display by GRFC. Mark Anderson
came on at scrum-half; Tom Jones moved to wing with Kieron Locke
taking Andrew Camplejohn
's place in the pack. Some forceful drives by Richard Gavin
and Aidan McCall-Hagan in particular led to a period of pressure imposed by the GRFC forwards, resulting in Andy Black
crashing over. Mark Anderson
converted well to bring GRFC back into contention at 15-10. We again fell foul of the referee's whistle, leading to Pont kicking to the corner and driving over for another unconverted try (20-10). Again the play ebbed and flowed with a Pont forward receiving a yellow card and Mark Anderson
stroking over a penalty from in front (20-13). The visitors restored their ten point lead with a penalty under the posts. Time was running out for Gosforth, but a couple of kickable penalties were taken as taps until a break-away run and try by Paddy Smith (I know - as unlikely as the sun breaking through the drizzle!), saw us back in bonus point country with a chance to snatch a win at (23-20). It wasn't to be as a resolute Pont defence kept us out before getting their own chance to extend their lead with the last play of the game. The kick missed and the whistle went. The second-half went 17-8 in our favour, but that counts for little! The 16-7 penalty count against us didn't help our cause.
Next week sees us playing a catch-up game at home to Novos - another vital encounter, as Ponteland are now just two points behind us. KO time is to be advised.