Northern 26 West 22

By Dave Picken - December 3 2017
Northern 26 West 22 For most of this game it looked as though a patched up West side would pull off a significant victory in the battle against relegation. Sadly, thanks to a daft ten minutes in the second half, we had to be content with a losing bonus point and really must knuckle down in the next two home games ..

Leading 19-3 into the second half we looked likely to get a try bonus point. Instead, lost concentration allowed the hosts to run in three tries in eleven minutes to take an unlikely lead. 
It was 26-22 to Northern with five minutes left and we launched attack after attack in the home 22 - Northern conceding seven penalties and seeing replacement James Millington going to the sin bin. 
A penalty try looked in the offing, but there was consternation as the eighth whistle at the scrum breakdown went in the home side's favour to end the game. 
We had been forced to start the game with three players who were carrying leg injuries - skipper Carl Miller, prop Adam Coates and replacement Jordan Foulds – all three being rotated through the game as they limped on and off 
We suffered a further blow when second row Joe Rafferty had to be helped off after just ten minutes with second team skipper James Tyers making his first team debut from the bench. 
Despite the setbacks we had the better of a scrappy first half. 
 Northern did take an early lead with a penalty from fly half Donal Collins. However, our pressure was rewarded when Andrew Rollins went over from close range on the half hour. Gavin Painter converting. 
Replacement Jordan Foulds got his first league try in similar fashion.  
We opted to kick a penalty to the corner and John Bunter rose to set up a maul for the line with Foulds peeling off to score. 
Painter's conversion was wide, but we still looked comfortable with a 12-3 score at half time. 
That quickly improved with the affable Tyers announcing his presence to finish off another series of mauls on the home line. 
At  19-3 there was no hint of the dramas to come. 
Northern did open their try account with a penalty kick to the corner -  replacement Laurence Troke peeling off the back of the line to dart over with Collins's conversion attempt floating wide. 
The 11 point margin still looked OK but then missed tackles wide on the left allowed Northern to storm up the wing with No 8 Laurence Annis in support to go over. 
The kick was missed and we relieved the pressure with a Gavin Painter penalty from wide on the left. 
However, the home side had their minds set on route one rugby with second row Tom White allowed to charge through the middle. Last man Will Hilditch put in a tremendous hit to stop him but Northern's support was there allowing  centre Harrison Clark to go over to set up an easy conversion. 
Suddenly, Northern  were just two points behind and they quickly put themselves into the lead with penalties as we were twice caught not releasing just outside the 22. 
There was still eight minutes left to overturn the four point deficit with Gavin Painter almost breaking through only to be called back after the referee ruled he'd run into Carl Miller.

We kept up the pressure forcing scrum after scrum to the right of the home posts. Seven times referee Sam Neill penalised the home forwards as they fought to stop us breaking from scrums,  but with most of the action between five and ten metres from the line, no penalty try was forthcoming.  Northern gleefully ending the game when the eighth scrum collpased  the award went to the home pack.
With those two important home games coming up we need the injury and unavailability issues clear up as the competition to avoid the drop zone becomes ever more fierce. 
Northern: Tom Matthews,  Chris Malley, Harrison Clark, Alex Clark, James Campion, Donal Collins, Ali Gray, Rob Likelu, Ryan Moore, Andrew Connor, Patrick Douglas, Tom White, Tom Burt, Phil Kay, Laurence Annis. 
Replacements: Laurence Troke, Bertram Marks, James Millington. 
  Tris: Troke, Annis, H. Clark. 
Cons: Collins (1) 
Pens Collins (3) 
Yellow: Millington. 
West:  Will Hilditch, Luke Mallinson,  Joe Willis, Peter Youll, Gavin Painter, Adam Peacock, Zac Southern, Ryan Painter, Adam Coates, Andrew Rollins, Alex Key, Jake Linighan, Joe Rafferty, John Bunter, Carl Miller (capt),  Andrew Turner. 
Changes: Jordan Foulds, James Tyers, Dan Quinn. 
Tries: Rolins, Foulds, Tyers. 
Cons: G Painter (2) 
Pens: G Painter (1) 
Referee: Sam Neill (Northumberland) 

Northern 26 West 22
Official West Hartlepool RFC (IP Logged)
03/12/2017 11:01
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