Ponteland 13 Blyth 3 Durham and Northumberland, Division One
PONTELAND produced a performance of steel and determination to record a well-deserved victory over local rivals Blyth in a low-scoring encounter.
It was ironic that in such a game the first two scores came in the opening exchanges as both sides failed to stamp their authority on proceedings.
Firstly, Michael Mullins hit over a well-struck penalty to give Pont the lead within the first five minutes before his opposite number on the visiting side struck a more straightforward chance through the posts to level the scores at 3-3.
The rest of the half was played out in frantic fashion with neither side dominating, but the two excellent groups of forwards nullified each other as scrums and line-outs were won against the head by both teams.
Blyth in particular had a couple of big old units in their pack and they made life difficult for Ponteland, but found that the home side were more than a match to the challenge.
The away side were reluctant to use their backs and some tough tackles from the hosts kept any forwards’ advancement at bay, with Jack Storey and Danny Harrison putting in some particularly good hits.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Blyth got into some good attacking positions and on a couple of occasions thought they had managed to get over the line, only to be denied by some resolute Pont defending as they were determined not to concede a try.
In between this pressure, Ponteland managed to escape and Mullins knocked over another penalty to give the home side the lead.
The hosts’ backs had looked more threatening than their opposite numbers throughout the match – with Will Newbigin providing a few flashes of brilliance and Richard Moller continuously carrying the ball forward that extra few yards when it mattered.
And ultimately it was the back line who provided the pivotal moment with a fine move leading to the only try of the game.
It was a flanker who started it as Phil Mundy made a smart steal at the otherwise perfect Blyth line-out to gain 30 yards before the backs used the ball to good effect and it was flung out to winger Oli Lane who passed smartly inside to Dan Harrison to dive over for the five points.
Mullins converted smartly and with that the game was won. Pont will hope to make it three league wins in a row against Ryton on Saturday.