Early Christmas present

Medicals 18 Ponteland 29 Durham and Northumberland Division One

PONTELAND secured an early Christmas present with a hard-fought win against high-flying Medicals.

With the pitch looking in good condition despite the heavy rain, Pont took to the field with six players missing, including skipper Richard Moller. As Medicals were also missing some of their students, it was a battle to see who coped best.

Walton dropped the kick-off short and the home side’s number eight broke blind . Several passes later they scored in the corner with barely a minute on the clock.

The visitors responded well and, after a spell of pressure, Peter Maughan passed to Dan Walton who shipped a pass to Pete Newbigin. The winger shimmied his way over to level the scores.

Then a clever pass by Maughan gave skipper Will Newbigin an opportunity and his burst of pace saw him score under the posts. Walton’s successful conversion made it 12-5 to Ponteland.

Medicals were under sustained pressure so it was no surprise on 25 minutes that another good line-out saw Maughan break blind putting Pete Newbigin in for a well-taken try. Again Walton converted.

However, the hosts started the second half well and scored a penalty to reduce the gap to 11 points. Then Pont allowed a speculative kick to bounce and a Medicals winger caught the ball and raced in to score.

The away side continued to attract the referee’s ire at the breakdown and on 52 minutes Robinson received a yellow card. Medicals kicked to the corner and a catch and drive enabled them to touch down. Although the conversion was missed, Ponteland were now only 19-18 ahead.

Fortunately, they applied themselves and started to get back into the game. Stromsoy came on for his seasonal debut as the forwards again began to take control.

Several opportunities were wasted as players either turned down the overlap by taking the ball inside or tried poorly executed chips, but Pont continued to pour forward. On the half-hour of the second half, patient play edged them towards the Medicals line and as the ball came back Walton coolly hit a drop goal (22-18).

From the kick-off, Will Newbigin put in a trademark run and Maughan and McGookin gained valuable yards. A resultant five-metre scum saw Maughan duck and dive over for the bonus point try. Newbigin converted to make it 29-18.

The forwards stayed sensible and picked and drove for the last four minutes to wind down an excellent win. The result means Ponteland are now seventh in the league table with 36 points.