Gateshead 7 Hartlepool Rovers 18
Hartlepool Rovers returned to some form on Saturday with this 18-7 away-day win at Gateshead.
The Whites have had a tough time over the last two months but there were signs at Eastwood Gardens that an improved run through to the end of the season is attainable if the players can take this display into the forthcoming games.
The conceding of 18 penalties needs to be addressed, though, with Rovers seemingly having the polar opposites of poor discipline one week and impeccable behaviour the next.
Gateshead couldn’t take advantage of that penalty advantage and their handling also left a lot to be desired, frustrating their players and fans alike.
Rovers handled the cold conditions much better and showed excellent control of the ball.
David Tate missed a second minute penalty for Gateshead with Rovers’ new-signing Ryan Foreman then kicking a sublime drop goal from 36 metres to give Rovers a 3-0 lead after only four minutes.
Rovers then put together a long distance move started by a Liam Wood run and, after safe handling by Foreman, Steven Barnfield and Patrick O’Callaghan, it was full back Steven Railton who was on hand to touchdown and the lead was 8-0.
The visitors then had several chances as they pummelled away at the Gateshead line and ought to have scored but the Gateshead defence deserves credit for some heroic tackling and cover support.
The Friaragemen were in control and a 20 metre Foreman penalty a minute into added time at the end of the first half gave Rovers an 11-0 lead.
Scrum half Taz Pelser started two moves at the start of the second half. The first saw Rovers penalised on the tryline after Dylan Langley had been put away by Pelser and the second saw the number nine send Barnfield race clear and to the line. Foreman added the extra points for an 18-0 lead.
Rovers didn’t get the chance to kick-on, being kept in their own half as Gateshead tried to get back into the match.
The hosts pulled seven points back after 49 minutes when they stole Rovers’ throw-in at a lineout on halfway. Charlie Ladds broke away from the set piece and punctured the Rovers’ defence and full back Sam Hall finished off the move; Tate’s conversion making Rovers’ lead 18-7.
Play then tended to be confined to between the two 22’s with Gateshead squandering several good chances with dropped passes and Rovers not showing the same quality of possession and shape that they had enjoyed in the first period.
The White Shirts looked in no danger, however, absorbing all that Gateshead could throw at them to close the game out.
Rovers are on the road again this Saturday when they travel to Heaton in Newcastle to face Medicals; if they can repeat this level of performance then another away win is possible.
The Gateshead photographer has advised that he will be uploading a picture gallery from the match and that players are welcome to download copies.
Gateshead: Hall, Anderson, Carr, Heelbeck (c), Ridley, Tate, Craig, J Thandi, Ewart, Moslemi, Ladds, McGowan, Surrey, Marshall, Pluskal. Subs used: Lambert, Woodhall, Riley
Rovers: S Railton, Coutts, S Barnfield, Gunn, A Smith, Foreman, Pelser, S Smith, Maguire, Lloyd, Langley, D Smith, Little, Wood, Whitehead (c). Subs used: Buttery, O’Callaghan, Kirton
Referee: Ray Sutherland (Durham Society)