Redcar 15 Ponteland 16 Durham and Northumberland, Division Two
Ponteland turned in their worst performance of the season and used all of their get out of jail cards to record a win at Redcar.
The game started with a cold and blustery crossfield wind as the home side flew out of the blocks and put Pont under pressure from the kick off.
A scrum on their own 22 saw the away side lose the ball behind the scrum.
Quick hands resulted in Redcar scoring in the corner with two minutes on the clock. The try was converted.
Ponteland immediately replied and their dominant scrum won a penalty on the Redcar 22, which Jonny Murphy converted (7-3).
The Teesside team then put their opponents under pressure as the visitors spent most of the first half on the back foot. Missed tackles, dropped passes and other unforced errors were making things difficult for Pont.
On 21 minutes, Redcar broke through and crossed the line, but they could not get the points as excellent play by Michael Searle held up the player and ball.
Ponteland were still struggling to cope with breakdown interpretations and a penalty was awarded to the hosts in a decent position for them, but their kicker missed a relatively easy opportunity.
However, they scored an excellent unconverted try as the ball was moved wide and a chip and chase saw the referee give it Redcar’s way as the winger and Searle went for the ball before it ran dead.
Chris Freer came on for Craig Robinson and Freer got a yellow card following a line-out drive that seemed somewhat harsh.
With a minute to go before half-time, a scrum penalty allowed Murphy to make it 12-6 at the interval.
Pont continued the second half in the same vein as several dropped balls gave Redcar field position. Moving the ball wide, the home side put a player clear but fortunately for the away side, the referee saw the forward pass.
The visitors at last started to string phases together and put Redcar on the defensive. A superb line break by Dan Marcus saw Ponteland with a two man overlap, only for the ball to be knocked forward with the line begging.
A big scrum set up a 20 metre line-out. Ponteland applied the usual drive and Searle claimed the touch down.
The try was not converted, so they were still a point behind.
They continued to press and a quickly taken penalty by Searle saw Redcar fail to retreat, but Pont were penalised at the tackle.
Questioning the decision saw them marched back 20 metres as the Redcar kicker again failed to nail his chance.
Further pressure saw the hosts awarded an easier kick, which went over to make it 15-11 with 11 minutes to go.
Staring down the barrel galvanised Pont’s forwards, as a series of drives saw Redcar infringe several times, resulting in a yellow card being issued.
Another massive line-out drive saw it taken down, but then Searle broke clear and fed Murphy, who was stopped tantalisingly close. Stu Weir swept in behind, scooped up the ball and pirouetted over the line to make it 16-15 to Ponteland on 77 minutes.
From the kick off, Pont ‘stuck the ball up the jumper’ and ground their way down the field.
The hosts eventually got the ball and six minutes into injury time, they were awarded a penalty on the Pont 22, ten metres in from touch.
The Redcar kicker again missed and Pont ran down the last two minutes to claim victory.
Overall, Ponteland would have had no gripes if they had lost the game. Their poor play for much of the game and failure to get to grips with the penalty count was only offset by their dogged determination to win.