A hat trick of silverware
Ponteland won the County Plate 21-18 against Whitley Bay Rockcliff
With a howling gale blowing down the pitch Pont were supported by a raucous crowd. With Long falling ill and Leiserach passing a last minute fitness test Pont took to the field against their closest League rivals - a cup and League promotion in the balance between the two teams over successive weekends.
Playing into the wind Pont looked calm as the first wave of attacks happened. The first penalty saw Rockcliff on the board 0-3 (4 min) patient build up saw Pont retain possession and move upfield. A trademark bullocking run from Probert saw Rock penalised and Chick landed a brilliant kick into the teeth of the gale force wind 3-3 (15 min) Whilst neither side could get to grips with the wind in the line outs, Ponts smaller pack got the upper hand in the scrums with several strikes against the head. On 25 minutes Pont drove Rocks pack backwards at a ten metre scrum and from the ensuing penalty Chick again hit it well to make it 6-3 (25 min) Pont were controlling the game well and the crowd were on hand not only to see Laser catch a ball but for him then to give a delicate back of the hand offload to a supporting player - tell your grand kids about that! The scrum was again providing the foundation for the backs to run intelligent lines and a multi phased attack saw Probert over for a try 11-3 (40 min)
The half time talk was to expect a reaction from Rockcliff and it duly happened. Excellent defending saw skipper Love drive an attacking play into touch. The opposition went through several phases and despite a hint of a forward pass in the move Rockcliff got over the line for their first try 11-8 (49 min) Pont immediately replied and a clever kick behind the defence saw Pont with a scrum ten metres out. Again the Maroon machine shunted them backwards as Moller collected and got over the line. Chick was again on superb kicking form to make it 18-8 ( 53 min) Pont put on their finishers as Scott, Stewart , Lane and Elsender entered the fray. Controversy arose on 60 minutes as Lyndon was clearly upended and spear tackled into the ground headfirst in front of three match officials. Whilst the crowd debated what colour card would appear the officials obviously decided Easter was not a time for giving cards and instead gave a naughty boy ticking off instead!! Rockcliff used their pick and drive game well and forced themselves over for a converted try 18-15 ( 65 min) . Steven and Bettison came on to add fresh impetus and a great steal and run by Beswick saw Townshend with the ball on the 22. Whilst it looked like he dropped the ball which bounced off his boot and over the bar he claimed he meant to drop kick it! Either way he recorded his first ever drop goal to put Pont ahead 21-15 (71 min) Rock didn't lie down and a series of attacks provided a penalty from 30 metres out 21-18 ( 75 min) both teams went hell for leather for the win and Pont again shunted the Rock pack backwards only to be penalised! A final attack by Rock was smothered by Ponts excellent cover tackling to finish the game. FT 21-18
Despite the galeforce wind both teams played their socks off in an entertaining, hard fought encounter. Ponteland won the County Shield for the second time in three seasons to sit alongside the 2nd and 3rd team Cups won earlier.
The final push comes next week as Pont require a minimum of two points at home against Seaton Carew in order to win promotion into D &N 1 and break Rockcliff's hearts again.