Leaders excel on their travels

Whitley Bay Rockcliff 0 Ponteland 27 Durham and Northumberland, Division Two

A ruthless performance of skill and physical endeavour enabled Ponteland to continue their winning run at Whitley Bay on Saturday.

The players arrived to find the pitch in a heavy state and there were plummeting temperatures, a few snow showers and a howling wind to contend with during the game.

But even though they were playing into the wind in the first half, the visitors built up several phases driving forward as they dominated the early exchanges.

The hosts did have a spell of pressure, however Pont’s defence was rock solid and after many Whitley Bay attempts at gaining ground, the powerful tackling turned over the ball and excellent breaks by Chris Searle and Craig Robinson saw a series of tremendous passes to put Dave Gregory in for a try.

A superb touch line kick into the wind by Jonny Murphy made it 7-0 to the league leaders after 17 minutes.

Rockcliff went on the attack straight from the kick-off and a line-out drive saw a home player over the line, but he was held up.

Back came Ponteland and when the home number eight was smashed by the Searle brothers, the loose ball was scooped up and it led to an unconverted score by Robinson.

Whitley Bay again used the wind to gain territory, but the visiting defence was impenetrable and no further points were added before half time.

With the wind in their favour, the away side’s aggressive defending meant that Rockcliff never got further than 30 metres from their own line during a spell of possession in the opening minutes of the second half.

Following a good line-out drive, it appeared that Robinson had touched down for Pont, but the referee did not award the try.

Further excellent work by the forwards saw Murphy put over a difficult penalty to make it 15-0 to the visitors.

The home team continued to go through the phases and a rare break out saw a tackle on the 10 metre line. The ball was dislodged and Chris Searle chipped the ball over an attacker, caught it and proceeded to run 40 metres, leaving four defenders in his wake, for an excellent try.

Murphy almost added the extras with his touchline kick, but the ball hit the crossbar and an upright before bouncing next to the posts.

The constant battering by Pont’s defence took its toll as the home team tired and the visitors found plenty of time and space to attack.

Whilst several overlaps went begging due to cold hands, a crash through by Dan Marcus gave Ponteland a bonus point. Murphy converted the score to make it 27-0.

Rockcliff managed to hang on for the last 10 minutes as Pont continued to create openings.