Hartlepool Rovers 10 Sheffield 43
Wallis injury

Hartlepool Rovers 10 Sheffield 43

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers were rocked by the size of this defeat to title favourites Sheffield.

The Tykes have been ranked as clear North Two East title favourites by most pundits but for almost all of the first half, it was Rovers who were by far the better side. The hosts camped in the away 22 for well over 30 minutes in the first period but could crucially not convert pressure into tries whilst Sheffield racked up three tries from their three visits to Rovers’ territory to take a 19-3 interval lead that effectively closed the game only half way through.


Without five first choice threequarters from last season in Brian Foreman (now with Horden); brother Andrew and Andrew Lilley (injured) and Simon Rutherford and Michael Walton (unavailable) it was a makeshift backs line up that took the field, together with the pack, under Mark Power’s leadership.


Rovers dominated from the whistle and were unlucky not to get some reward for some good pressure but this was undone by a breakaway try by flying winger Jon Cox. Offside at a scrum 10 metres from the Sheffield line saw the visitors’ backs use the advantage being played by Peter Ashman to pass the ball quickly to Cox who ran, kicked and collected to score an 80 metre try. Matt Burgess converted from in front of the posts.


The White Shirts swept straight back from the kick off and Kevin Stephenson, Ian Drummond and Power were all stopped short and Steve Wallis was forced from the field with a knee injury after 17minutes, his replacement Darren Smith going on to have a superb game. Rovers were then dealt a further blow when Chris Nicholson was sin binned after 21 minutes.


The North Two East newcomers scored again on their second attack on 25 minutes when, after a forward pass halted a promising move, they wheeled the Rovers’ scrum and a strong drive saw Tom Marples go over, Burgess again converting for a 14-0 lead completely against the run of play.


After 35 minutes, Stuart Ryder had to go off injured but Rovers were not deterred and more pressure brought a 32 metre penalty a minute into stoppage time that Gareth Foreman kicked to put Rovers’ first points on the board. Sheffield entered Rovers’ 22 for just the third time seven minutes into extra time with a strong run by Burgess bringing a second try for Marples and a 19-3 half time lead.


Some of Mr Ashman’s decisions in the first period had perplexed the home fans with Sheffield seemingly able to go offside, over the top and kill the ball with regularity and remain unpunished and a crooked lineout throw on half way a minute after the break brought another away try. There was no whistle from the Durham referee and the visitors capitalised on this good fortune for Cox to complete his brace after another excellent run by Burgess.


At this point, Carl Robinson replaced Paul Arnell as Rovers tried to get back into the game. On 55 minutes, Foreman sneakily broke from his 22 and made 20 metres before kicking over the cover, but the ball bounced cruelly away from him. Two minutes later, Robinson tried to dribble through from the Tykes’ 22 but the visitors retrieved the ball and cleared and shortly afterwards the sub became the second Rover to spend ten minutes in the sin bin.


Minus a man, Rovers conceded again after 61 minutes when Sheffield interpassed to send Ryan Amos in for a try and seven minutes later a simple run in brought a try for Mark Baker, Burgess converting and the influential centre, through whose hands and boot much of his sides’ moves emanated, got a try of his own that he also converted for a 43-3 lead.


Rovers pulled a consolation try back right on time when a sequence of penalties ended with Foreman forcing his way over and he added the extra points for a 43-10 scoreline.


The result will have given the players and coaches some food for thought and the match will have made interesting viewing for the West Hartlepool and Durham City ‘spies’ in the crowd.


The Friaragemen now need to concentrate their minds for the Hartlepool derby with arch rivals West at Brinkburn next Saturday.


Rovers: P. Hall, Nicholson (sin bin), Drummond, Kirton, Stephenson, P. Arnell (C. Robinson (sin bin)), G. Foreman, Wise, Nichols, Todd, Power (c), S. Smith, Wallis (D. Smith), Ryder (J. Cushlow), S. Hall.


Sheffield: King (Salvin), J. Cox, Amos, Burgess, Baker, Davies, C. Cox (c), Marples, Archer, Hutchinson (Adamzo), Park, Joel, Hutton (Thurlsfield), Atkinson, Skinner.


Referee: Peter Ashman (Durham Society)