Ponteland 24 Hartlepool Rovers 8
Hartlepool Rovers were a pale shadow of their recent selves in losing 24-8 at Ponteland on Saturday.
The Whites had the chance to complete a league double for the third Saturday in a row, and following their 29-7 home win in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but were very much second best.
Ponteland started the day just one spot above the relegation places in Durham Northumberland One and their victory has given them a good chance now of avoiding the drop.
Rovers, as quite often happens unfortunately, couldn’t cope with a team that played a really simple style of rugby. They allowed Ponteland to get past the gain line far too often; their tackling was below par and they lacked any real creativity in attack.
An eighth minute Ryan Foreman penalty should have been the springboard for Rovers but, instead, they shipped three tries in the second twenty minutes of the first half to trail 17-3 at the break.
Adam Lawson crossed after 20 minutes, aided by three missed tackles, to make up for having been just tackled into touch by Joe Little and number eight Sam Long started his try-scoring move from an attacking lineout before being sent in by John McConnell.
More poor tackling after 39 minutes saw Richard Moller burst clear and then kick through and some good handling created space for flanker Chris Searle to cut in from the left wing and McConnell’s conversion made it 17-3.
Whilst the margin flattered the hosts, it also reflected a woeful last thirty minutes of the half for the Friaragemen.
Foreman went for goal with less than a minute of the second half gone but went wide from 36 metres.
Rovers pulled five points back after 58 minutes when Callum Whitehead, Billy Lloyd and Foreman sent Steven Railton away and, when Rovers won a penalty, Chrissy Harrison took a quick tap and dived over the line.
The White Shirts then enjoyed almost continuous pressure inside the home 22 for much of the rest of the match but were guilty of being one-dimensional in using the pick and go and couldn’t get through a tiring but brave defence.
A sequence of penalties in added time might have brought a yellow card for Ponteland but they managed to keep all 15 men on the pitch and won a penalty themselves eight minutes into stoppage time on their own five metre line. Number nine Patrick Holliday then won his side the try bonus point by quickly tapping and racing 95 metres to score, McConnell’s conversion brought the final whistle and a 24-8 defeat for the Rovers.
Rovers play their final league game at the New Friarage on Saturday when relegated Redcar are the visitors.
Ponteland: Chick, Lawson. Moller, Taylor, Lyndon, McConnell, Holliday, Browne, Baron, Mew, Livingstone-Evans (c), Freer, West, Searle, Long. Subs used: Bailey, Lieserach, Lane
Rovers: M Railton, Coutts, Kirton, Gunn, S Railton, Foreman, M Stephenson, Pinchen, Maguire, Lloyd, Langley, Little, Dring, Church, Whitehead (c). Subs used: S Smith, C Harrison, Wood
Referee: Brian Callendar (Northumberland Society)