Youth has its time
Ponteland were unlucky to come away with nothing, losing 17-29 to Durham City
With Chick and Lane injured from last week and many unavailable Pont drafted in the old stager, Chris Steven, converted back row Sean Bettison to hooker and gave six players their debuts in the 1st XV . To make matters worse McKenna pulled up in the warm up so Mould got his first start. The average age of the team was 22 ( it would have been lower if Chris Steven wasn’t playing!!)
Pont started brightly against last seasons runners up and took an opposition lineout and pushed City back in the scrums. Both sides were defending well and looking to counter.
An excellent break out wide led to a lineout 12 metres out. Pont won and drove forward and Chris Steven crashed over 5-0 ( 12 min)
Durham pressured from the kick and good offloads saw a player tackled five metres out. He managed to lurch forwards three times with the ball until it was scooped up and over for a try 5-5 ( 19 min) it was frenetic stuff as Pont again broke wide and Beswick was prevented from scoring by a desperate tap tackle. Again city soaked up the pressure and twice broke on the counter attack to score a converted try 5-12 (27 min) and try three 5-17 (36 min)
Pont finished the half strongly and Holliday was through to score but was brought back for a dubious knock on HT 5-17
Pont brought on McFarland for his debut as Pont flew out the blocks. Excellent hands put the backs clear but a dropped pass prevented an early score. Pont forwards again dominated the scrum and a clean ball out saw McConnell give and excellent inside pass to Blain who coasted under the posts. McConnell made it 12-17.
Both sides were taking a battering and losing players and a major ankle injury to West saw him off and taken to hospital on 52 minutes. A subsequent injury to Long saw him off five minutes later, also for a hospital visit!
In the disarray City managed a try but Pont immediately replied via James Mould ( timings blurry as I was sorting hospital runs!) 17-22
With several minutes left Pont had a line out five metres from the City line. Bettison, who had bravely drove himself to a standstill was unable to get a clean throw. From the ensuing scrum City moved down the field and with the clock run out forced themselves over the line. The conversion made it 17-29 as the final whistle blew
Pont ran themselves into the ground and played excellent rugby at a high tempo. They were unlucky not to come away with at least a bonus point but the difference was City took more of their chances when they came, whereas Pont will look back on a number of missed opportunities
Man of the match. Sam Long
Dixon the monkey. Ben Stewart