Durham City 13 Hartlepool Rovers 17
Brian Foreman

Durham City 13 Hartlepool Rovers 17

By R&O - February 17 2007
Hartlepool Rovers earned a vital victory over Durham City at Hollow Drift to climb a place in the North Two East table.

After a tremendous opening fifteen minutesí pressure which yielded no points, Rovers had to get the win the hard way by coming back from 13-0 down, scoring a wonder try in the process.


Rovers threw everything at City in the opening stages, camping on the home line on several occasions but could not break through the Durham defence with a couple of penalties also coming to the hostsí aid. Durham created havoc on their first attack when Matt Cammiss ran strongly but a knock on halted that move. Then, on their first visit to the Roversí 22, City took the lead after 18 minutes.


A last ditch tackle by Dave Marshall stopped Kevin Showler on the try line but a missed touch kick then proved costly when James Walker countered and Richard Knowles took advantage of a huge gap in the defence to touch down, Walker adding the extra points and he then kicked penalties on the half hour and 36 minutes to put his side 13-0 up.


The Friaragemen had found themselves with a mountain to climb after such a promising start but from one of several good runs by Brian Foreman, Chris Sainty pulled three points back as the first half entered stoppage time.


Three minutes after the interval, the White Shirts reduced the deficit further with a superb piece of running rugby. There seemed little danger when Gareth Foreman slipped a pass to Marshall but the stand off set off from his own 10 metre line and, swerving inside and then outside would be tacklers, made the 22 where he drew Walker and timed his inside pass to Michael Walton to perfection, the centre going under the posts. Sainty converted and City now led 13-10. In a tremendous sporting touch, home no 8 Howie Johnson was seen, as Walton touched down, helping Marshall to his feet and paying tribute to his show of skill.


Almost immediately, coach Kevin Westgarth sent on Stuart Langston and Steve Jones, who had been warming up since half time, for Glen Wise and Walton. The Whites then had a let off after 50 minutes when Walker missed what, for him, was a straightforward penalty from 38 metres.


On 53 minutes, Rovers went ahead when Andrew Lilley caught a crossfield kick and took play into the home half where Brian Foreman appeared from nowhere to run in from 30 metres out, Saintyís conversion from wide out making the scoreline 17-13 in Roversí favour.


Coach Westgarth made his final change after 64 minutes and Stuart Ryder helped to tighten up the Roversí lineout as the match entered its closing stages. With 78 minutes played, Brian Foreman was almost in for his second try but he was superbly tackled just short. City had to run everything but being penned in and around their 22 it was a tough task and when they did manage to break clear, Chris Mattison put in a forward pass to Nick Howe. Into added time, Langston pounced on a loose ball and Lee put the ball into touch to bring the final whistle.


The news that Horden had won 32-12 at Driffield meant that this win over City had been a crucial one although Rochdaleís 13-12 home victory over Old Crossleyans keeps them three points clear of Rovers. A lead of only a single point with Rovers entertaining Driffield next Saturday as Rochdale visit Morpeth would have given Rovers a chance of climbing above the Lancastrians with a home win.


Durham City: Walker, Metcalf, Howe, Knowles, Mattison, Stevenson (McCreedy 64), Roberts (c), Davison (Archbold 53), Nichols, Cammiss, Martin (Ford 53), Showler, Thompson, McKinnon, Johnson.


Rovers: B. Foreman, Sainty, Walton (Jones 46), Lee, Lilley, Marshall, G. Foreman (c), S. Smith, J. Cushlow, Wise (Langston 46), Power, A. Palmer (Ryder 64), S. Palmer, Taylor, S. Hall.


Referee: Rowan Willans (Durham Society)