South Tyneside College 5 Ponteland 13 Durham and Northumberland, Division Two
Ponteland secured the league title on Saturday with a hard-fought win at South Tyneside College (STC).
The game was dominated by a howling gale force wind blowing up the hill and an exchange ref who issued four yellow cards and awarded 41 penalties.
Within two minutes, Ponteland gained a line-out and drove forward. STC chose to step away from the line yet it was Pont that was penalised.
Michael Searle made an excellent break at the home team defended in numbers. A further sweeping move by the backs saw David Gregory make yards.
As the home team handled on the floor Pont got the penalty which was blown just wide of the posts. STC were giving as good as they got as both teams tackled ferociously.
They used the wind to gain territory and a dangerous line-out five metres out was only thwarted as Kelly made a brilliant steal.
On 20 minutes, Ponteland won one of the many strikes against the head only to be penalised. STC continued to press forward and a dropped pass saw Gregory chip and collect football style to the amazement of the crowd.
A sustained spell of pressure saw Searle reach the opposition line, only for play to be brought back for a scrum to Ponteland.
Both sides continued to batter away at each other and just on half-time, Pont were pressing hard when a pass was intercepted and it took a great chase and tackle by Adam Suppan to stop a home score.
The half finished with a crunching tackle by Chris Freer on one of the STC wingers as Cam Bell stole the turnover.
Jamie Taylor came on for his first team début along with Rob Charlton in the second half.
Pont immediately used the wind advantage to pin STC in the corner.
Phil McAreavey charged down the kick from the scrum-half as several players lunged for the ball, with Bell claiming the touch down. Searle’s excellent touchline kick made it 7-0 to Pont.
The away side continued to push hard and a penalty 20 metres was kicked over by Searle.
STC immediately went on the attack and a series of penalties saw McAreavey yellow carded. For the second week running a former player, Kris Scott, scored against his old club to make it 10-5 to the league leaders after 60 minutes.
Both teams were still going at full tilt with no quarter given. Further pressure by the Pont forwards saw Searle kick over another difficult penalty.
With five minutes to go, a dangerous spear tackle resulted in a penalty and a yellow card to a STC player. As an afterthought, the referee gave Kelly one as well.
As the clock ticked down, Gregory was yellow carded for rolling the ball away. The game finished 13-5 to Ponteland.
Great credit to STC, they are battling to overcome relegation and all their players fought for their lives.