Durham City 32 Hartlepool Rovers 12

Durham City 32 Hartlepool Rovers 12

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers turned in a performance to forget at Hollow Drift and had it not been for a penalty try and conversion, and an off day for home kicker James Walker, the scoreline would have looked even more dire.

Already without the Kiwi duo of Jared Stevens and Jason White, coach Brian Robinson was also denied the services of Chris Nicholson and Michael Walton. These absentees were missed but canít be blamed for the end result that saw Rovers ship five tries.

Once again, the desire didnít seem to be there in the players and the Whites made City look good. The conceding of another early try didnít help and with a 0-10 deficit after only six minutes it was another uphill struggle. For some reason, too many players are not performing, the attitude is flat and unless this is changed a long, hard road lies ahead. Many players and fans may not like to hear the word Ďrelegationí used but the North Two East table is a tight one and there can be no room for complacency and more in the wins column is needed.

There has been little for the Friarage faithful to shout about in the last two games and yet in adversity they still turned up at City, whereas, as someone remarked at Hollow Drift, a side that could and did go top had few fans there and who made no noise even though their side were running in five tries.

A nightmare start saw Nick Howe and Ralph Smith cross in opposite corners in the opening six minutes and had James Walkerís conversions been more accurate the damage could have been even worse.

With tackles being missed, the hosts had any amount of recycled ball and Rovers were having difficulty in getting any meaningful possession of their own. The first real attack didnít come until the half hour when Simon Rutherford showed how dangerous he could be if given the ball. After the Foreman brothers went close, Gareth tried a drop goal but his 25 metre effort went wide.

Jon Nichols had saved his side on a couple of occasions with some strikes against the head and one of these set up a promising move but City held out and went straight upfield where ex West man Darren McKinnon went over from close range, Walker adding the extra points for a 17-0 half time lead.

Having conceded early first half scores, the Friaragemen shipped a try after 5 minutes of the second half when Dan Kyle ran in from a 5 metre scrum but Rovers hit back on 51 minutes when, after Steve Wallis was unlucky to only come away with a 5 metre scrum when over the line with the ball, Gareth Foreman ghosted in from the resultant scrum.

Walker kicked a 22 metre penalty after 61 minutes to put City 25-5 ahead but Rovers were then awarded their first penalty try for some considerable time when, with the pack motoring for the line, City were penalised by Mick Reid. Gareth Foremanís conversion reduced the deficit to 12-25 with 15 minutes to play.

There was to be no further chance for a Roversí score and it was City, instead, who got another try with Howe completing a brace, Walkerís conversion giving a final score of 12-32.

Rovers host Morpeth at the Friarage on Saturday, a daunting prospect given the current form of the respective teams. With that fixture being followed by a trip to Percy Park and the return game against Durham plus the Boxing Day derby with West, improvements in attitude, form and the work ethic are needed if a change in results is to happen.

Durham City: R. Smith, Walker, Howe, Knowles, Stanley (Perkins), Kyle, Stevenson, Davison, Hay, Powell, Showler (Smithson), Wearmouth, Johnson (Thompson), Roberts (c), McKinnon.

Rovers: Sainty, Lilley, B. Cushlow, Rutherford, Stephenson, G. Foreman, A. Foreman (Coutts), Wise, Nichols, J. Cushlow (Graham), Power (c), D. Smith (Grazier), Wallis, Kirton, S. Hall.

Referee: Mick Reid (Durham Society)