Bad start costly as Pont fall to defeat

Hartlepool Rovers 35 Ponteland 7 Durham & Northumberland, Division One

A MUCH-CHANGED Ponteland side were too slow out of the blocks and allowed their opponents to build up a commanding lead.

With Mark Kelly, Kyle Norris, Chris Freer, Phil Mundy, Jack Storey, Michael Mullins, Dan Walton and Rhys Gilbert missing on Saturday, it was always going to be a hard slog away at Hartlepool Rovers. Ian Scott, Will McGawley and Jonny Murphy came in for their first starts of the season.

The visitors were up against it from the first minute when they knocked the ball on and Hartlepool gathered the ball, spun it wide and touched down for a try.

With Pont’s line-out misfiring and several missed tackles hampering their play, the hosts scored another try a few minutes later and another surge forward made it 15-0.

The scrum eventually started to function as Rovers were shunted backwards on Ponteland’s 22, but a scrambled pick up saw the back row break on the blind side to score.

On 30 minutes, the away side got their line-out working and a 20-metre drive fell just short of the line. Pont were getting into the game now so it was a surprise when McGawley was shown yellow for what looked to be an innocuous offside. The penalty made it 23-0 at half time.

With McGawley dazed, Will Newbigin stepped up to fly-half, his brother Pete on at scrum-half and Pete Maughan going to full-back.

Ponteland began to show their old spirit as a kick through was driven on 20 metres by a series of forwards, with skipper Richie Moller claiming the try. Will Newbigin converted the score.

It was a much better effort from the visitors in the second half, although Rovers did score two tries, one of which was converted, to make the final score 35-7.