Pontefract 26 Hartlepool Rovers 11
Steve Wallis

Pontefract 26 Hartlepool Rovers 11

By R&O - May 18 2006
Another mixed performance by Rovers saw them dumped out of the PowerGen Intermediate Cup by Pontefract at Moor Lane, the leaking of 26 points perhaps flattering the hosts, but who thoroughly deserved the win.

The absence through injury of Jared Stevens and Phil Hall and through unavailability of Darren Smith, Simon Rutherford and Andrew Lilley handed 1st XV chances to several players but the side overall didnít perform and it would be very unfair to blame the changes for this defeat. More to blame was the lack of a degree of impetus for most of the game and a pre-occupation in kicking when, despite the changes, the visitors still fielded a formidable array of running power.

The Friaragemen fell behind to a Tim Williamson penalty after 10 minutes but Gareth Foreman cancelled this out with a supreme kick from 40 metres 8 minutes later.

Rovers contributed to their downfall on 22 minutes when a knock on at a penalty on the 22 gave Pontefract the chance to attack that they thought they had lost with the penalty award. Chris Nicholson and Steve Wallis bundled Richard Oates into touch in goal but from the 22, weak defence allowed Chris Palmer in for a try.

Carl Robinson tried to dribble through to the line after 28 minutes but he could not get through to the ball, however, he then dropped a 23 metre goal 6 minutes later to reduce the deficit to 6-8, this after Gareth Foreman had narrowly missed a 25 metre penalty.

With not long to half time, Rovers took the lead for the first time when Andrew Foreman, although seemingly crowded out, managed to kick ahead and win the race to the touchdown. Garethís conversion just faded to the right of the posts but Rovers led 11-8.

Pontefract came out for the second half determined to maintain their running game with Matthew Hargreaves, in particular, looking menacing with the ball in hand and space in which to run. Andrew Foreman then ran well upfield but his intended pass inside went loose and the next play by the hosts saw Rovers concede a penalty for offside and Williamsonís kick not only pulled his side level but caused Roversí heads to drop a little.

Williamson gave his side the lead with a 31metre penalty after 50 minutes but Rovers should really have scored a try 3 minutes later when they had their opponents under the cosh on their line but despite several penalties, Rovers could not get the all important touchdown

The White Shirts gifted Pontefract their next try when a breakdown on the home 22 saw the Yorkshiremenís backs race downfield and Hargreaves get the try his running had deserved. Williamsonís conversion attempt hit the right post but the lead was now 19-11 and Pontefract were well on top.

The Roversí scrum had been pushed off the ball several times, yet curiously the pack had looked impressive with the driving maul pushing their opponents back regularly. The running game had tailed off alarmingly, however, and the boot taken over.

Right on time, Roversí defence was at sixes and sevens and an overlap saw Mick Bateman cross in the left corner, Williamsonís excellent touchline conversion increasing the scoreline to 26-11.

Mr. Philips then showed some strong refereeing when he immediately brandished the red card to Andy Smith for an attempted punch at Jon Nichols, when many referees would, in stoppage time, have used the sin bin or let the player off with a lecture.

The Roversí fans once again gave their team great vocal backing but by the final whistle were scratching their heads in disbelief at another below par performance. Next game up is a home league match against Sandal, beaten at home by Morpeth 22-7 on Saturday, and two points and a much improved performance is a must. On current form, the relegation zone beckons and the huge win over Alnwick seems a distant memory as does the chance Rovers had to go top of the table a mere week ago.

Pontefract: Thorpe, Oates (Bateman), Dykes, Archer, Hargreaves (Limb), Williamson, Fletcher, Maw, A. Smith (sent off), Laverick, Brady (c) Taylor, C. Smith, Palmer (Hunter), Lowery.

Rovers: Walton, Nicholson, A. Foreman, Wallis, B. Cushlow, C. Robinson, G. Foreman (A. Arnell), J. Cushlow (Graham), Nichols, Wise, Power (c), Cook, S, Hall, Kirton, White.

Referee: Revis Philips (North Yorkshire Society)