Hartlepool narrowly lose out late on
Despite outscoring the hosts 3 tries to 2, Pool had to settle for a losing bonus point at Gosforth.
Pool travelled to Broadway West (Newcastle), the home of Gosforth RFC for the first away fixture of the D&N2 league campaign.
After uneventful opening period with both sides struggling to take control, it was the away side took the first blood after 10 minutes, when centre Keagen Thomas made inroads into the defence with a sharp break and as Pool looked to spin the ball wide , play was pulled back for the home backs being offside. Anthony Lawrence penalty kick was true from 25 metres and Pool opened the scoreing.(0-3)
On 19 minutes, home full-back, Mathew Struthers ran powerfully down the right wing, fending off three would-be tacklers to score under the posts for Mark Anderson to convert. (7-3). This lead was extended on 25 minutes, when scrum-half, Mark Anderson, stroked over a difficult penalty from 35 metres after a high tackle (10-3).
Pool came back into the game with a decent move, Anthony Lawrence took a quick penalty making 10 metres, before Pool captain Andy Small drove the ball on before passing to Liam Pape who finished well with a try in the corner . The conversion from Lawrence was just wide of the uprights. (10-8).
Another "Gos" penalty by Anderson on 38 minutes put the home side further ahead 13-8 up as half-time approached. That looked to be the likely half time score, but home No 8, Adam Barrass, thought otherwise. Picking up from the base of a scrum on the home "22", he picked up, ran the remaining 80 metres to score a great individual try, which Anderson again converted from wide-out. So the half-time score stood at a slightly flattering 20-8 to Gosforth.
Turning round with the breeze at their backs, Hartlepool relentlessly clawed their way back into the game with some sustained pressure which lead to series of penalty offences. On 43 minutes Lawrence stroked over his second penalty to reduce the lead to 20-13.
Pool had the "bit between the teeth" and great break by Dave Chester moved the ball 20 metres from the home try line, the ball was then recycled before Nathan Taylor combined with winger Dean Ryan but before Ryan could touch down the ball was knocked forward with the referee playing advantage, Pool kicked the penalty into touch.
From the resultant line out five metres out , Jon Carney caught Andy Small throw and the forwards drove on before number 8 Tom Johnson touch down (20-16). Lawrence was wide with conversion.
Pool continue to dominate and from a line out, the ball was passed along the back line before Liam Pape showed great strength to beat three players to take play 10 metres out. 2 penalties were awarded in quick succession and Pool elected for the scrum on both occasions.
Tom Johnson and Liam Pape were held up on the try line as the excellent Gosforth defence kept Pool at bay. The next phase ex Gosforth player Adam Ainley kicked over the oncoming defence but his kick just ran over dead ball line with Dean Ryan inches away from touching down.
Right winger Tyler Claydon then went on strong run making 40 metres but as Pool looked to finish the move the ball was knocked on five metres out and a gilt edge opportunity was lost.
Two minutes later, the pressure payed dividend, following a scrum 5 metres out, Andy Small drove on and Liam Turnbull (2nd half sub) was on hand to touch down. Keagen Thomas conversion saw Pool take the lead for the first team. (20-23)
With 15 minutes remaining, Pool were penalised for slowing the ball down at the ruck and Anderson penalty levelled the score. (23-23)
With minutes remaining, Pool went on the offence looking to win the game and score a bonus point. The forwards drove on taking play up to the home 20 metres line sucking in the Gosforth defence , quick ball by Nathan Taylor saw the ball pass along the line but Pool were penalised for crossing when "simply hands" looked the better option and Gosforth were left off the hook.
A quick penalty by the home side saw play move into the Pool half and Pool were then penalised for a high tackle and Anderson maintained his 100% kicking record to break Pool’s and secure the victory. (26-23)
Next week Redcar are the visitors to Mayfield Park.