Pont on top in see-saw encounter

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Blyth 26 Ponteland 29 Durham and Northumberland, Division One

PONTELAND put clear daylight between themselves and the final relegation spot with a hard-fought win at Blyth.

The hosts kicked off on a muddy but drying pitch and after a few attacks for both teams, Pont drove a line-out down the field and several offloads saw Craig Robinson break blind to score a try.

Blyth chose to truck the ball up using their big units and whilst Pont’s tackling was solid they struggled with the interpretation at the breakdown, as players on their feet attempting to take it from the tackled player were constantly penalised.

The visitors continued to look dangerous, but they did not take their opportunities and a good pick and drive gave Blyth an opportunity and one of their players scrambled over to level the scores.

Immediately from the kick off, Ponteland again moved wide with great hands by Shiells putting McGookin in to score. Mullins converted to make it 12-5.

They stayed strong in defence to maintain their lead at half-time, but with five minutes on the clock in the second half, Pont lost a line-out 10 metres out and Blyth scooped it up to score a converted try.

The see-saw nature of the game continued as the away forwards again made a massive drive and Pete Newbigin spotted an unguarded blind side and scampered in to score, this was followed by a Mullins conversion. Then Blyth responded with a well worked try (19-19).

Pont’s forwards again did the donkey work driving the home team backwards.

An intelligent chip over the top almost put Maughan in while the crowd were mesmerised by the sight of ex Blyth player, Kyle Norris, shimmy his way past several defenders. The pressure brought a Michael Mullins penalty and he made it 22-19 to Ponteland. Almost immediately, a further penalty was awarded and Mullins uncharacteristically missed it.

It was all Pont at this time and a further massive drive saw Craig Robinson again on the scoresheet. Mullins converted the try brilliantly from the touchline.

Cheered on by a vocal crowd, Blyth laid siege to the visitors’ line, but brilliant defending sealed the victory for Ponteland.

Blyth kept going and when Searle was harshly penalised at the breakdown with a yellow card they used the extra space to their advantage deep into injury time.

A pick-and-go went for the line as a home player blocked the tackler, allowing the ball carrier to score. The conversion was the last play and the game finished 29-26 to Ponteland.