Hartlepool Rovers 12 Driffield 12
12 points

Hartlepool Rovers 12 Driffield 12

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers and Driffield served up a tremendous game of running rugby at a sun drenched Friarage, a draw being a fair result although Rovers could argue that they had done enough to take both points.

A large crowd was treated to a titanic battle between these two sides and one in which the result was in doubt right up to the final minute when a 36 metre penalty by Gareth Foreman, that could have given Rovers the win, hit the left upright and rebounded into play. There was still time for Alan Blackburn to allow the 22 drop out with over 52 minutes already played in the second half.


There were home debuts for the Kiwi duo of Jared Stevens and Jason White and a return to action after a four weeks lay of for Andrew Foreman whilst a poorly Simon Hall was replaced by Steve Wallis.


The trend of conceding an early try continued when Tom Foster had a simple and unopposed run to the line after evading Gareth Foreman as he broke from a 30 metre scrum. Rovers thus found themselves 5-0 down with only 50 seconds played.


On 9 minutes, the scores were level when a penalty to the left corner on West View Road saw the pack drive to the line and Gareth Foreman get the scoring credit.


The Driffield backs were looking dangerous every time they had the ball with Alex Piercy entering the line to great effect on several occasions, however, the home tackling was showing a great improvement on that seen in recent weeks.


After 20 minutes, Driffield skipper Ali McClarron had too much space and time and he ran in a fairly simple try, Karl Birch converting for a 12-5 lead. McClarron then nearly had a second try as a telegraphed cross kick by Birch headed his way but the ball bounced backwards when a kind bounce would have given the winger a certain score.


Rovers pulled level again on 32 minutes with a Gareth Foreman try. The forwards had a great drive in motion with Stevens leading the way and when Foreman took the ball he ran a few metres before kicking over Piercy and picking up to score. He then slotted the conversion with a well judged kick.


In the closing stages of the half, Rovers had to defend their line against several scrums and thrusts by Driffield but from one, Wallis stole the ball and ran to the 22 to relieve the danger.


The Mighty Whites had a great chance to take the lead for the first time after 42 minutes when Andrew Foreman broke clear but with Simon Rutherford and Andrew Lilley outside him he chose to decline the overlap and was tackled.


Rovers’ scrummage was working well and a strike against the head by Jon Nichols put Rovers on the attack and when Gareth Foreman kicked ahead, McClarron’s clearance kick was partially charged down by a chasing Ben Cushlow.


The Friaragemen then had two chances in quick succession but Andrew Foreman failed to use an overlap and then with a four man advantage, a long pass to Darren Smith saw the lock having to stall and take the ball when a moving line would have brought a try.


There was a curious incident on 71 minutes when, after Gareth Foreman had elected to go for goal when a 12 metre penalty was awarded and had pushed his kick wide, Mr. Blackburn awarded the penalty again. This time Michael Walton kicked to the corner and recycled possession saw the stand off try two 22 metre drop goals but one was charged down and the second failed to get any height.


Birch then had two drop goal attempts at the Rovers’ end on 79 minutes but his first bounced back off the left post and the second went well wide much to the relief of the Friarage faithful.


Both sides had more attacks that were increasingly desperate in nature, Driffield launching one from their own line in a bold and dangerous move.


Mr. Blackburn had controlled the game well and tactfully dealt with one or two dust ups when it was six of one and half a dozen of the other but had maybe been a bit generous with some of the spoiling tactics and offside play of the visitors. When he penalised the Driffield backs in front of the posts and only 36 metres out, the Yorkshiremen hung their heads as they settled down for Gareth Foreman’s kick, contemplating defeat. The kick struck sweetly seemed good as the roar from behind the posts suggested but the ball swerved very late and hit the left upright and bounced back into play.


The draw was probably fair to both sides and it entertained, if nervously towards the end, a large crowd made up of fans from both clubs who created a tremendous atmosphere.


Rovers have three points, therefore, from three North Two East starts. Given the games have been against promotion favourites Sheffield and Driffield as well as town rivals West Hartlepool, maybe this start is not that bad at all. Alnwick are next up this coming Saturday and Rovers must look to maximise two consecutive home games with two points from the Northumbrians’ visit.


Rovers: P. Hall, Lilley, Rutherford, A. Foreman, B. Cushlow, Walton, G. Foreman, Stevens, Nichols, J. Cushlow, Power (capt), D. Smith (Downer), Wallis, Kirton, White. Subs not used: Graham, Nicholson.


Driffield: Piercy (Mitchell-Williams), L. Thompson, Stephenson, Plumridge, McClarron (capt), Birch, Foster, Nellist, Havler, Rowntree (Yates), D. Thompson (Butler), Notley, Cook, Wood, Turton.


Referee: Alan Blackburn (Manchester Society)