Nail-biting finale but Ponteland cling on

Ponteland 16 Gosforth 13 Durham & Northumberland League, Division One

PONTELAND recovered from a slow start to achieve a much-needed victory, writes John Chappell.

The home side played with the wind on a rain-soaked pitch that sapped energy throughout. Gosforth were first out of the blocks as they attacked with pace from the start and, following a turned-over line-out to each side, they were awarded a scrum on Pont’s 22.

Unfortunately, the all-too-familiar call of ‘crouch, touch, pause, penalty’ was heard and the visitors took advantage by slotting over the kick to lead 0-3 after five minutes. Gosforth continued in the same vein and immediately put pressure on Ponteland, who responded by making big tackles on the gain line to repel a series of fast-paced runs.

A massive knock-on by the away side looked to have eased the pressure, but an immediate miskick by Pont stopped the advantage and Gosforth ran the ball to score out wide. The conversion made it 0-10.

The hosts’ response was to take the game to Gosforth in set play and to keep running the ball as often as possible, with continued good line-out ball helping their cause.

A short-range penalty by Pete Britland made it 3-10, then Pont’s forwards received the ball from a line-out 20 metres out and they drove Gosforth backwards before Chris Steven scored a vital try.

Jonny Livingstone-Evans touched down just before half-time following a Gosforth knock-on near their own line, only to be brought back as the whistle had already gone for a Ponteland scrum. This meant the score at the break was still 8-10.

With the wind having dropped, the second half saw Pont up their game as excellent offloads saw several breakouts that were only stopped by good tackling.

A home player was then penalised for pulling down an opponent at a line-out and Gosforth scored the penalty to extend their lead.

Ponteland’s forwards then put the pressure on with a great drive and eventually it told when the visitors were shunted backwards over their own line during a scrum and Moller dived on the ball to level the scores.

Further attacks saw the home side awarded a penalty and Todza coolly slotted it over to give Ponteland the lead by 16 points to 13.

A final nail-biting five minutes saw Pont repel Gosforth attempts on the line to run out deserving winners.