Stockton 32 Ponteland 13 Durham & Northumberland Division One
PONTELAND suffered their eighth loss in 11 league games this season as they went down by 19 points against high-flying Stockton, writes Chris Morgan.
With Pont missing many regular first-choice players, they were forced to field a weakened side against the Teeside team who had only lost one game s all season.
And it soon became clear that Pont were going to be up against it as the home side dominated the first half, with the game all but over after forty minutes.
It did take 23 minutes for the deadlock to be broken however. Despite Stockton seeing the vast majority of the ball, Pont were resolute in defence with some good pressure and hard tackling going in against their hosts.
Lee Coulthard and Richard Moller put in some particularly strong hits while Phil Redhead was enjoying a successful outing in the number nine shirt.
However, with Stockton constantly coming at Pont, it was only going to be a matter of time before the deadlock was broken as Ritchie Brown went over for a try which was converted by Jeremy Good.
A penalty for offside soon followed and when Pont did go in search of a try of their own, they found themselves being wasteful in attack as a couple of promising positions were thrown away with a dropped ball or a slightly misjudged pass leading to its downfall.
And the visitors were made to pay as more Stockton pressure resulted in two tries on the stroke of half-time. First, a second row forward dived over to make the score and then the last play of the half saw scrum-half Rob Green go over for the third try for the home side and a 22-0 lead.
Despite all Pont’s efforts they were struggling to live with the creativity of Good and the pace of wingmen Ian Salter and Dan Phinn who looked constantly dangerous.
The second half was a different affair however as Pont performed admirably well given the deficit they faced at half-time.
Mike Mullins kicked an impressive penalty to register the first points on the board for the visitors but despite their improvement, Pont still had to cope with two further tries from the home side.
Again Stockton made their possession count to score their fourth try before a promising period of play from Ponteland was again wasted only for Salter to steal possession and race up the other end of the field to score himself.
These tries were against the run of play however as Pont were the better team in the second period with more attacking play as their hosts tired towards the end.
And they were rewarded for their endeavours with another smartly taken penalty by Mullins before replacement Matty Walters scored a consolation try running from deep to touch down under the posts, with Pont having the consolation of winning the second half.
Despite the result, this was always going to be a tough challenge for Pont against a team with league title aspirations, so the players can be proud of the shift they put in and they didn’t lie down for their hosts.
However, Pont do need to start making the most of promising positions and scoring tries when they have the chance to, with the difference between the two teams here being the ruthlessness of Stockton compared to Pont’s wastefulness.
They can be proud of their defensive efforts though and if they can be more clinical when going forward should go into the run of games against teams in their area of the league table in good spirits.
Ponteland: Coulthard, Norris, Kelly, Freer, Weir, McGookin, Graydon, Moller (c), Redhead, Mullins, Storey, March, Newbigin, Britland, Stoker. Subs: Walters, Curry, Lockhart.