West Hartlepool 12 Hartlepool Rovers 15

West Hartlepool 12 Hartlepool Rovers 15

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers took the North Two East points with a superb victory over arch rivals West Hartlepool at Brinkburn.

Although the scoreline doesnít suggest it, Rovers were undoubtedly the deserved winners, restricting their hosts to two or three potential try scoring attacks in each half. West only had four penalties by demon kicker Paul Hagan to show for their efforts whilst Rovers touched down twice through Carl Robinson and debutant Kiwi Jared Stevens with Gareth Foreman kicking a conversion and a penalty.

The White Shirts put their 43-10 thrashing at the hands of Sheffield behind them and showed much more defensive mettle and some more effective use of the ball when in possession.

Player Coach Steve Wallis also handed a debut to Stevensí compatriot Jason White and a first senior start to Ben Cushlow who had impressed in the friendly loss to Mowden Park.

West took a 2nd minute lead when Hagan slotted a 25 metre penalty and they immediately launched another attack from the restart but were penalised in front of the Roversí posts and the visitors cleared their line.

On 15 minutes, Foreman put a penalty well wide and shortly afterwards, Robinson missed with two drop goal attempts, the second after a good break up the wing by Phil Hall and Andrew Lilley. Solid scrummaging then set up another attacking platform for Rovers but Robinsonís kick ahead went out on the full.

West broke clear from their 22 using long kicks by Phil Wallis and after 25 minutes Hagan put a 37 metre penalty between the sticks to increase the lead to 6-0. On the half hour, Rovers stormed to within 10 metres of the West line where Foremanís chip over the cover was fielded by Hagan who launched a counter attack from his own line. The former Westoe man went wide with a 32 metre penalty on 35 minutes but in added time he made no mistake with a trickier effort from 42 metres.

Five minutes into the second half, White broke well from the base of a scrum in midfield and excellent recycled possession saw Robinson power to the try line with a determined run. Foremanís conversion put Roversí first points on the board and reduced Westís lead to 9-7. Robinson was sadly forced from the field after scoring with Michael Charlton going into the back row, Ian Drummond to stand off and Paul Kirton reverting to centre.

After 51 minutes, Hagan kicked his fourth penalty after Wallis had tried for a drop goal with Chris Wray playing advantage for a Roversí offside. The Friaragemen then started to put West under increasing pressure forcing West to concede penalty after penalty and some tremendous mauling saw Stevens burrow over from close range. Foremanís conversion from wide out went narrowly wide but the try had tied the scores at 12-12.

On 61 minutes, Foreman, with wind advantage, went for goal from fully 50 metres and his successful kick had several metres to spare as it sailed over the crossbar and between the uprights to give his side a 15-12 lead.

Within four minutes, Rovers used more penalties conceded by West and some driving play by the pack to camp on the try line but the home defence held firm. Foreman then tried a drop goal but it failed to get any height whatsoever.

West had a late attack through sub Mark Cholmondeley, Peter Hodgson and Allan Milne but his pass to Hagan went behind the winger.

The four minutes stoppage time were very tense but the Friarage faithful and players could celebrate wildly at the final whistle and the result brought some consolation for the three derby losses to West last season.

Rovers head up the A1 to visit Northern in the PowerGen Intermediate Cup this Saturday but have further injury worries with Wallis and Robinson likely to be sidelined for two or three weeks and a doubt over the powerful Stevens.

West: Todd, Hagan, Hodgson, Milne (Williamson), Weegram, P. Wallis, Thomas, Cullinane (Cholmondeley), Sawyer, Carr, Rudd, Davies, J. Boatman, Tones (Henderson), Bennett (c).

Rovers: P. Hall, B. Cushlow, Drummond, Rutherford, Lilley, C. Robinson (Charlton), G. Foreman, Stevens (Todd), Nichols, Wise, Power (c), D. Smith, S. Hall, Kirton, White.

Referee: Chris Wray (Durham Society)