Gateshead 19 Ponteland 12 Durham and Northumberland, Division One
PONTELAND salvaged a bonus point at the death against the team in third place, but the players left the field a bit disappointed that they did not do even better.
Both teams set off at pace as the forwards attempted to get on top early on. Gateshead moved the ball sharply and an ensuing penalty saw them lead 3-0 after 10 minutes.
Pont’s quick reply was to catch a line-out 35 metres out. A huge drive saw them push the home team to within a yard of their try-line before it collapsed and controversially the referee played on as he claimed that the visitors took it down.
Gateshead then had a spell of pressure and a clever overhead chip led to a try before a further penalty made it 11-0.
However, the visitors did not let their heads drop and they came back strongly. A series of ‘pick and gos’ forced a penalty which was tricky but Mullins stroked it over. With the half-time whistle approaching, Pont mixed forwards and backs as a sweep upfield saw another successful penalty to make it 11-6 at the interval.
Ponteland continued where they left off in the second half as waves of attacking play kept Gateshead pinned back in their own half for most of the rest of the game.
Good inter-passing by Norris and McGookin was stalled by the home defence. A number of illegal activities saw the hosts reduced to 13 men and Mullins again kicked over a penalty.
The game was there for the taking. Unfortunately, good defensive tackling and Pont players taking the wrong option in scoring positions meant Gateshead were back to a full complement without further loss.
Soon afterwards, they moved the ball down the pitch and scored a penalty. Then, despite an excellent tackle by Kelly, Gateshead scored in the corner. The try was unconverted so the score was 19-9.
There was still time for Pont to let more scoring chances go begging, but they did get a bonus point in the last play of the game as the home side were punished for an infringement and Mullins kicked over the penalty.