Ponteland fall victim to the dreaded A19 curse

Hartlepool Rovers 25 Ponteland 19 Durham and Northumberland Division One

THE curse of the A19 struck Ponteland again as they went down to a close defeat against Hartlepool Rovers.

Pont have never enjoyed the best of times in this part of the world but came into this game in buoyant mood against a Rovers side who had lost three of their previous four matches.

The visitors started the better. Rovers were penalised for infringements at the break down and despite an early miss, Michael Mullins soon made amends, slotting over a penalty after 12 minutes to give Ponteland a 3-0 lead.

This seemed to spur Hartlepool into life and after a spell of pressure they scored an unconverted try, although the grounding was questionable the referee awarded the score.

Back came the away side and they scored what was undoubtedly the try of the match to reclaim the lead. Calling a mark in his own 22, Peter Maughan expertly manoeuvred into some space to gain Pont ground.

What followed was an excellent example of support play as Rob Lenderyou’s lay-off found Will Newbigin, who in turn set up his brother Pete to dive over for his first try for the first XV.

But despite some excellent aspects to their play, Pont were constantly shooting themselves in the foot. A poor catch from the restart saw the hosts awarded a penalty which they converted with 30 minutes played. After gifting possession back to the home side, they ran in their second try to retake the lead (13-10).

Philip Mundy made an excellent break which led to a penalty for the visitors, which Mullins knocked over to level the scores at 13-13 going into the break.

In the second half, the visitors were caught cold as a persistent spell of early pressure from Hartlepool resulted in the centre running through at pace to score their third try to make it 20-13 with the conversion.

Pont kept plugging away and Mullins sent over another penalty to bring the score to within four points as the penalty side for both sides crept up.

But they were made to pay for a couple of handling errors which could have seen them claim their second try as Rovers went up the other end to score their fourth of the match.

Ponteland secured a bonus point when Mullins put over a penalty with the last kick of the game to make the final score 25-19.

Team: Coulthard, Norris, Kelly, Robinson, Freer, Lenderyou, Mundy, McGookin, Maughan, Mullins, Britland, Storey, Moller, P. Newbigin, W. Newbigin. Sub: Bell.