After their impressive and comprehensive County cup win against Acklam the previous week, reports filtering back from our scouting network, suggested Ponteland were a well drilled outfit with a physical presence!
A tough game was expected, so Durham were out the blocks quickly, turning over the ball from kick off, taking a scrum against the head, both nearly resulting in tries. Durham conceded two silly penalties which eased the pressure for Ponteland, but from a penalty awarded to Durham quick hands resulted in a try in the corner to take an early 5 – 0 lead. Great defence from Durham resulted in another turn over, kicking ahead and forcing a 5m scrum which the Durham No 8 picked and crashed over making the score 10 – 0. Poor discipline from Durham, with four penalties in quick succession, one warranting a yellow card cost Durham all their momentum and let Ponteland back in the game. As well as discipline, poor handling made the game become very scrappy and no further scores were possible as the first of the three 20 min periods came to a close.
The second session started with a bang as straight from the kick off the Durham player caught the ball beat two players with good feet and accelerated to the corner for a brilliant individual try! Cynical foul play by the chasing Ponteland player resulted in him being yellow carded and with the extra player Durham dominated the next five minutes scoring a tremendous team try straight from a line out, with great hands to score under the posts, with the conversion being successful making the score 22 – 0 to Durham. This seemed to spur Ponteland into action and Durham’s tackles were starting to fall off, resulting in Ponteland crashing over from their 5m scrum. A long arcing run from one of their big runners after two or three missed tackles, with the conversion made the score 22 – 12. Back came Durham, creating turn over ball, using good handling and from a tap penalty, crisp passing saw Durham score under the posts again, with the try converted to make the score 29 – 12.
The third session started with again Durham dominating, breaking blind from a scrum, one pass and an easy try to push Durham’s lead to 34 – 12. Good defence on their own try line and dropped passes denied Durham scoring further tries. But from a tap penalty good hands put the centre through a gap to score near the corner to make the score 39 – 12. Straight from the kick off Durham put together three or four phases of play, being denied a try by courageous Ponteland defence and were turned over for Ponteland to score a long range breakaway try to make the score 39 – 17. But Durham were not to be denied the final score and again straight from a line out a miss three saw the Durham winger racing into the corner to make the final score 44 – 17.
This was a good test for the Durham squad and for the majority of the game they produced quality rugby against a physical team! Durham are now looking forward to their trip to Guisborough this Sunday.