Hartlepool Rovers 3 West Hartlepool 29

Hartlepool Rovers 3 West Hartlepool 29

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers suffered a humiliating defeat at the Friarage against a resurgent West Hartlepool who, whilst maybe flattered by the final scoreline, nevertheless fully deserved their win.

The website match preview suggested the victors would be the side that wanted it most on the day and Rovers were a pale shadow of the team that had run up successive wins against Morpeth, Percy Park and Durham City. The pre match attitude seemed spot on, however, this all too easily evaporated as the match got underway.


The Friaragemen didn’t help themselves in a number of areas. The selection of Andrew Foreman at scrum half saw the West back row nullify him at scrum and breakdown and deprived Rovers of the chance to use his pace to exploit the yawning gaps and space that Paul Kirton and Steve Wallis, in particular, found in midfield. The hosts crucially lost scrums against the head and wayward lineout throwing kept giving West the ball back at the resultant scrums. Once again, poor and missed tackles proved costly, although both Ben Cushlow and Simon Hall got through a tremendous amount of exemplary tackling. The kicking to touch was, in the main, a misnomer, so many missing the target.


West tried to do the simple things correctly and also knew how to slow things down at the breakdown to prevent Rovers getting any real amount of quality ball and this was also to prove decisive.


The visitors declined a kickable penalty in only the 3rd minute that raised a few eyebrows, it being a pretty comfortable chance for either Paul Moss or David Tighe and when Jason White stole the resultant lineout even more so. Gareth Foreman pushed a 38 metre penalty wide of the left upright three minutes later.


A great break by Kirton took Rovers into the West 22 but Chris Nicholson couldn’t take the pass and out of nothing West then took the lead on 20 minutes when Andrew Hare stole in at the right corner. Moss failed to convert but it was first blood to West.


After 28 minutes, a strike against the head by Brett Cullinane gave West good field position and they then amazingly refused a front on 26 metre penalty to run the ball but Rovers snuffed the move out.


After the half hour, Gareth Foreman took a quick 22 and caught Moss on halfway to win a penalty. Andrew Foreman combined with Gareth in the West 22 with Darren Smith then taking over to charge to the line but he was well tackled. Right on time, West had a penalty on the Rovers 10 metre line and although a difficult chance, it was spurned and the half brought to a close by a kick to touch.


Both sides were reduced to 14 men 7 minutes after the break when Anth Carr and Darren Smith were sin binned by referee Ray Sutherland.


 Rovers kept play in the West 22 and ought to have scored from a drive following a White lineout take but the home eight was held up on the line. Gareth Foreman then cleverly dribbled past the cover but knocked on with the line at his mercy. Rovers did make this visit to the 22 count with a Gareth Foreman penalty from 23 metres after 50 minutes.


A second take against the head by Cullinane after 57 minutes in the Steetley corner threatened the Whites’ line but a loose pass by sub Phil Wallis was seized upon by Nicholson and Andrew Foreman and the danger cleared.


It was only a temporary respite though as, on the hour, Darren Thomas put in a run down the Oakes flank and a missed tackle on half way saw Paul Rudd receive to run in and behind the posts for Wallis to easily convert for a 12-3 lead.


Two minutes later, it was 17-3 when a cruel bounce for the home defence in the Rovers’ 22 saw the alert Peter Hodgson on hand to pick up and go over.


The one way traffic continued after 71 minutes when Tighe touched down from close range after an on line maul, Wallis again failing with the conversion but at 22-3 ahead, West had the game safe and the hosts looking pretty shambolic.


The scoring was concluded with 3 minutes to go when Hodgson crossed for his second try, Tighe this time taking the ball and successfully converting for a final score of 29-3.


This was a very disappointing performance and result for Rovers. If the players are unable to ‘be up’ for a Boxing Day derby and all that it stands for - the two clubs, their respective fan bases and the wider rugby community – then worrying times are ahead. To be dispatched in this fashion by ones bitter rivals left the Friarage Faithful in sombre mood and one not likely to be easily lifted with a daunting trip to Beverley next match up.


 West, on the other hand, have levelled this season’s derby results at 1-1 and prevented any chance of a Rovers’ ‘Triple Crown.’ It will require a greater effort on the part of the White Shirts come March if the league points are not to ‘go West.’


Rovers: Nicholson (Sainty), B. Cushlow, Kirton, Rutherford, Lilley, G. Foreman, A. Foreman, Stevens (Todd), Campbell (J. Cushlow), Wise, Power (c), D. Smith (sin bin)(A. Arnell), S. Hall, S. Wallis, White.


West: Thomas (Masshedar), Hare (Weegram), Edwards (Connolly), Hodgson, Todd (Lambert), Moss (Wallis), Tighe (c), Carr (sin bin), Cullinane, Phillips, Miller (Rudd), Davies (Henderson), D. Boatman (Tones), J. Boatman, Sawyer (Myers).


Referee: Ray Sutherland (Durham Society)