Hartlepool Rovers had the odds stacked up against them from the start, but did not give up in the whole 80 minutes and they refused to let West ‘score points for fun’ and restricted them to only 22 points to 8.
It was in fact the Friaragemen who put the first points onto the board after an early penalty for Chris Sainty on 4 minutes. This came from tremendous pressure from the kick off, the pack driving forward into the West 22.
Sadly only 5 minutes later and in West’s first attack they spread the along the back line and across the pitch where they had an overlap of men, allowing Andrew Cheslin a clear run in the railway corner.
The visitors lead was to increase further when they took advantage of a similar move to their first try, this time with Stu Waites crossing in the same corner.
In first half stoppage time an attacking line out in the Steetley corner saw Liam Bailey power over from close range for a half time lead of 15-3.
Rovers had an early chance after the break to close the gap, but Sainty went narrowly wide with a 28 metre penalty. The Whites remained on the attack and a lineout take by Stewart Grazier gave him the opportunity to charge through the defence for a solo effort and well deserved try. Unfortunately Sainty’s touchline conversion rebounded from the left post.
West were soon to bounce back and it was their faster pace and slick passing that caused the damage as they ran in another try out wide with Scott Butcher being the man to score. Gareth Foreman kicking the wide out conversion.
Rovers spent much of the last 20 minutes chipping away with the majority of the possession and had many opportunities which failed to go all of the way due to some excellent defence and some, at times, harsh decisions by Charl Erasmus.
Overall the Friaragemen put in some terrific moves and also showed great defence against the league leaders. It was a performance which most supporters would agree, would have beaten most of the opposition we have played this season. If we can continue from this performance over the coming weeks, the team is capable of rescuing their poor season as to date.
Despite being without many first choice players through injury and unavailability all 18 players gave 100% and played as a strong unit. Dave Gregory making his debut had a great game at hooker in both the set pieces and open play. In the back row Chris Atkins and Grazier also impressed with both their attacking play and defence.
In the backs, Andrew Arnell and Chris Sainty combined well at half back. All of the three quarters had their attacking moments, but were also called on to defend on several occasions.
Next up for Rovers is a difficult away visit to Wheatley Hills, but if they can reproduce this form next Saturday they are capable of getting a result.
Rovers: Lilley, B Cushlow, B Foreman, Coulson, Jones, Sainty, A.Arnell (King 67), S Smith, Gregory, I Pinchen (Wise 67), A.Brown (A.Pinchen 64), Thubron (c), Grazier, Atkins, Dring (Sin bin 39).
West: Waites, Larkin (Butcher 35), Watson, G Robinson, A.Cheslin, G Foreman, A Foreman, Carr (A Dixon 41), Bailey (Sin bin 78), Coates, Davies, C.Miller (Carr 54), D Boatman (Sin bin 42), J Boatman (c),Stockdale. Sub not used: Henderson
Referee: Charl Erasmus (Durham Society)