Ryton 6 Ponteland 9
THE front cover of the Ryton match-day programme made reference to the fact that this was the 132nd year of rugby in the town.
It may not quite have been that long since a Ponteland First team last recorded victory on this ground, but it had certainly been a while in coming, so for the visitors to walk away with a well-earned win given their previous shoddy record, was even sweeter.
A scoreline of 6-9 would suggest a game short on entertainment, which in truth it was.
Try scoring chances were at a premium as both sides relied on the boots of their stand-offs to record their respective points.
Neither side really looked like scoring a try. Ponteland had the best opportunity in a few manic moments before the end of the first half, when Pete Britland broke free on the half-way line and was so close to touching down underneath the posts before he was cruelly denied by a back-tracking Ryton defender who forced the Ponteland winger to spill the ball from within his grasp.
Seconds later, Mark McGookin opted to go himself when he should have offloaded to the supporting Ally Wood and with that the chance was gone.
Instead the game relied heavily on defence and Ponteland’s made of stern stuff these days.
Ponteland took the lead on eight minutes with a penalty from Mullins but found themselves pegged back before the break when Ryton sent a penalty of their own through the posts, ironically while down to 14 men as the referee issued a yellow card to their centre Andy Gabel for not rolling away at a ruck.
The visitors started the second half the brighter of the two sides and missed the chance to reclaim the lead as Mullins sent a penalty chance wide.
And moments later they found themselves in the wrong side of the referee’s notebook as Robinson was asked to take a 10-minute break for an offside offence.
Unlike Ponteland before them, this time Ryton were able to take advantage of the extra man as a well worked drop goal from Jon Benson went sailing through the posts to give the home side a 6-3 lead with just 15 minutes remaining.
But Ponteland are a different entity these days and the difference in fitness in the last stages of the game was what ultimately swung it in their favour.
Their resolute and controlled but aggressive defence became all too much for the home side who gave Mullins the chance to level up the scores, one he duly took.
And then with just five minutes to go the young fly-half sent over another impressive kick as the Ryton defence infringed again – the last score of the match and one that washed away those, give or take a few, 132 years of Ryton hurt for Ponteland.
Ponteland: Coulthard, Bell, Norris, Robinson, Harrison, Lenderyou, Mundy, McGookin, Maughan, Mullins, Britland, Storey, Lane, Woods, W Newbigin. Subs: Kelly, Charlton, S Walton.