Stockton 39 Ponteland 12 Durham and Northumberland, Division One
PONTELAND found themselves on the wrong end of a hammering as a young back-line struggled to cope with an outstanding Stockton side, writes Chris Morgan.
With the average age of the Pont backs being just 20 and many in their debut season for the first XV, it was always going to be a tough assignment against a side looking to push for the promotion places.
And so it proved as the home team ran in five first-half tries in a one-sided opening 40 minutes.
In fairness to Pont, they had looked bright themselves in the opening stages with captain Richard Moller and Andrew Lyndon both testing the home left winger with some testing kicks in behind.
And it was the visitors who wasted the first opportunity of the match as Michael Mullins put wide a relatively straight forward chance from a penalty.
They were soon made to pay as the dangerous Stockton backline started to get into their rhythm, running in their first try of the match on 15 minutes as the right winger skipped around the Pont defence to score as the away side missed several tackles in their vein attempts to stop him.
Lee Coulthard then kicked a ball on his own try-line straight back to the home backs, who once again flung it out to their thunderbolt of a right winger who ran in his second score within a matter of minutes.
A third try for Stockton followed when a flanker got on the receiving end of a good move to touch down under the posts and suddenly the score was 17-0.
It got worse for Ponteland when a great turn of pace by the outside centre set up the right winger to complete a first half hat-trick.
Pont’s play was more of a mixed bag as promising positions were wasted with poor retention of the ball and several line-outs and a scrum were lost against the head. One line-out did come to fruition however and Craig Robinson managed to lead the drive for Danny Harrison to touch down for the visitors’ first score of the match.
Stockton responded by scoring another two tries either side of the interval to make it 34-5 and when a kick forward was missed by the unfortunate Will Newbigin who slipped at full back, the left winger pounced and scored the Teessiders’ seventh try.
In fairness to Ponteland, they did attempt to play some rugby but their play lacked the fluidity of their superior and more experienced hosts.
Their efforts were rewarded though when a trademark Peter Maughan burst from scrum half created space for Moller to score under the posts in what was the away side’s most positive piece of play of the match. A successful conversion made it 39-12.
The scoring was to end there as the intensity of attacks that Pont were hit with in the opening 40 were thankfully somewhat tamer second time around, although the visitors look to have lost winger Chris Searle, who had suspected broken ribs after a nasty-looking tackle late on in the match.
Considering the difference in age and experience between the sides this result was no disgrace, although Ponteland will be disappointed at some of the missed tackles that allowed their opponents to score tries.