An entertaining game with plenty of points scored but a 15-minute lapse of concentration in the second half gave Gateshead the win away from home.
Gateshead fielded a heavy pack but Rovers carried on from the powerful performance at Horden, matching them in the scrums. The game started fairly even with Tucker looking strong in the loose and Fleet involved in good counter rucking along with Ken Opitto.
It was Gateshead however who opened the scoring after 12 minutes, pinching a lineout ball then passed along the full line for what looked like an effortless try, converted from the touchline, 0 – 7.
Daz got 3 points back with a well-hit penalty a few minutes later to make the score 3 – 7 then a great break from Mark Olwenny, Darren Smith and Ken set up Mash for a try in his first game back, converted by Daz, 10 – 7. They didn’t have the lead long though, giving a penalty for crossing when receiving the kick off, 10 – 10.
Another great break followed by Smithy with Ken in support but they were unluckily stopped 5 metres short. More pressure followed from the scrum and Daz chipped through for Durrans to score with Daz converting 17 – 10 after 32 minutes.
A third try followed after good work from Tucker and Ken forced a penalty that was quickly taken and passed to Ben Little to drive over just before the break leaving Rovers in a commanding 22 – 10 lead.
The second half couldn’t have started worse with Gateshead showing good hands across the backs then the winger cleverly chipped ahead and won the race to touch down for an unconverted try, 22 – 15.
Another followed shortly after what was an easily recognisable forward pass but they have to play to the referee and it has to be said the tackling was very poor, 22 – 20 after 46 minutes.
A number of strange penalty decisions followed and Gateshead took the lead after 53 minutes with a penalty, 22 – 23. They then went further ahead showing good hands again and the winger chipped for the number 8, surprisingly he didn’t lose the ball in his mouth or stop to moan to the referee but scored instead, 22 – 30.
After weathering the storm Rovers clawed their way back into contention with good work from Mash and Ste Railton. Pressure from a 5-metre scrum saw the visiting no7 binned and Daz got the score back to 25 – 30 on 65 minutes and then 28 – 30 a couple of minutes later after good work from Muller.
Gateshead hit back with a penalty on 72 minutes, 28 – 33, but the Heughers bounced back with Little scoring another close range try from a lineout, 33 – 33 with 5 minutes to play.
It could have gone either way but it was Gateshead who finished the game off after a powerful drive from a lineout to score and convert, 33 – 40 full time.
Not a bad display with good performances from Darren Smith, Ken, Mash and Tucker. Fleety and Hoggy also put a lot of effort in and are improving every game. To be honest though we were in command at half time and it was one we could have won if we played the right game. When we raise the tempo many teams can’t live with us but we spend long periods plodding at a slow pace and playing back into the opposition pack. More effort and confidence required.