Barnard Castle 3 Ponteland 15 Durham and Northumberland, Division Two
Ponteland came out on top in a physical game at Barnard Castle on Saturday.
With several players unavailable, the visitors called upon Pete Newbigin at scrum-half and Chris Patterson on the bench for his first appearance of the season.
Pont played uphill in the first half on a cold but pleasant day. An immediate knock-on from the kick-off saw the home team with the first scrum.
A massive shunt from Ponteland set the tone for the rest of the game as their forwards demolished the home team time and time again at both the scrum and line-out.
Several breakouts by Nick Townshend and Dave Gregory were stopped by good defending as Barnard Castle had more of the early territory.
A further counter-attack by the away side saw a turnover and penalty. The hosts kicked it between the posts to lead 3-0 after nine minutes.
Pont again gained territory and drove the Barnard Castle scrum back 20 metres, only to be penalised by the referee.
The game was flowing in both directions, but the visitors began to apply pressure when they had possession in their opponents’ half and a 30 metre line-out drive just fell short.
They were eventually rewarded for their strong play after 25 minutes when another huge line-out drive saw number eight Craig Robinson touch down.
He then required treatment following an incident that took place when he was on the ground.
It emerged that he had lost two teeth.
Bloodied but unbowed, Robinson stayed on the pitch and he had an outstanding game.
An immediate break from the kick-off saw Newbigin weave his way to be stopped just short of the line.
The last five minutes of the half saw Pont pile on the pressure and, following another grinding scrum, Robinson went over for an unconverted try to make it 10-3 to Ponteland at half-time.
The away side started the second half well and they looked to increase their lead when driving the home scrum backwards, but they were penalised again.
With Barnard Castle blurring the definition of offside, Newbigin tried to remove an offending player in an offside position only to be shown a yellow card.
Pont’s backs continued to probe, but the team were now spending more time defending than attacking.
A home break saw them go over the line, however, excellent work by Mark Kelly saw it held up.
The visitors weathered the storm and they then had some decent possession near the Barnard Castle line.
A searing break by Richie Moller put Adam Suppan and Jonny Murphy clear, although the attack was stopped short.
But Ponteland were not to be denied. A great line-out drive and two driving scrums saw man-of-the-match Robinson over for his hat-trick.
Pont spent the last ten minutes defending as the home team went in a vain search of a bonus point. The final score was 3-15.