Hartlepool Rovers 26 West Hartlepool 27
Simon Rutherford

Hartlepool Rovers 26 West Hartlepool 27

By R&O - May 18 2006
Two tries in injury time and a match winning touchline conversion by Paul Moss left the Roversí players and fans absolutely devastated and the West contingent ecstatic.

There was controversy after the successful Moss kick sparked football-like scenes of delirium amongst the West players. Mike Hodgson hadnít blown the full time whistle and went to the kick off spot but, when Rovers tried to restart the game, the Durham Society referee wouldnít allow it and then promptly blew for time.

This result was cruel justice for the White Shirts who had led 13-0 and 26-15 but had allowed their bitter rivals to hit back as half time approached and then as the match entered stoppage time.

Rovers had a 2nd minute penalty chance to take the lead but Chris Sainty went wide from 38 metres. The full back made no mistake three minutes later from closer range when Gareth Foreman was illegally stopped from a tap penalty following some great driving play.

West then lost Jonny Boatman with Rovers charging upfield through Paul Kirton and Steve Wallis but Moss eventually cleared. A Sainty penalty on 21 minutes increased Roversí lead but the hosts then had to defend well as West pressed.

A great break by Andrew Lilley launched Rovers on another offensive and Dan Cavanagh then put play into the Steetley corner where Simon Rutherford scored a trademark try, being carried over by the pack, Sainty slotting an excellent touchline conversion for Rovers to lead 13-0.

It wasnít until the 32nd minute that West had their first real attack from open play and Chris Lambert streaked in at the right hand corner from the 22 for an unconverted score.

On 39 minutes, West made it to the Roversí line again where Moss kicked crossfield for Danny Weegram who had no problem in gathering and crossing unopposed.

The Friaragemen had a right to feel a little aggrieved less than a minute into the second half when, after several bouts of mayhem in the first half had seen Mr. Hodgson give lectures but show no cards, he sent Jonny Cushlow to the sin bin.

Whilst the hooker was off the field, Rovers didnít concede any points and could have extended their lead when Lilley intercepted a poor Moss chip kick but the centre crucially slowed as he reached half way and the move was snuffed out.

A huge downfield clearance by Lambert on his 22 was in danger of rolling out of play in Roversí in goal area but, fortunately for West, it stopped just in time. Dave Tighe then broke for the visitors and ought to have made it to the line but he stalled and his pass to Lambert was knocked on. West kept the pressure on the White Shirts and Anth Carr had a simple stroll in under the posts from a quickly taken tap penalty. Darren Smith then superbly blocked Mossís conversion attempt.

Play then switched to the opposite end of the pitch and, after Tim Sawyer was sin binned, Sainty kicked the penalty to put Rovers back in front 16-15.

Rovers then hit a purple patch, running two fantastic tries in five minutes. A tremendous passage of play on 64 minutes saw Rutherford, Foreman and Jared Stevens racing upfield and, after Kirton and Wallis had taken play on, the ball was spread for Lewis Humble to touch down on his 1st XV debut.

Sainty couldnít convert but five minutes later the Durham U20 player got a try. Stevens put in a great break and Wallis and Smith then attacked up the opposite flank, releasing the full back who got to the line despite a despairing tackle.

At 26-15 down, West had ten minutes to hit back and they threw everything at Rovers but couldnít break down the home defence. With the 80 minutes up, Moss used the diagonal kick to good effect again and Weegram had the space he needed to cross in the left corner for an unconverted try.

Having used this tactic twice to good effect, Moss then did it again with Lambert defying Foremanís tackle. The tension was unbearable in the ground and it became worse when there was a delay in taking the conversion with Smith and Foreman injured. The equation was simple, a successful conversion would see West steal the win, a miss and Rovers would triumph. The kick was on the best touchline for the left footed Moss and the second he struck the ball everyone knew the kick was good.

Somehow, Moss was destined to convert, after all, West had been making a habit of pipping Rovers at the post and this was now the third time in the last six matches that West had won with the last play of the game.

Over the matchís duration, Rovers were the better side but this counted for nothing come the final whistle. The Roversí players had played really well but Westís never say die approach did it for them again. Rovers suffered in the scrum stats with West awarded three to every one for Rovers, normally emanating from good Rovers tackling and Mr. Hodgsonís reluctance, given several skirmishes, to allow a ruck to form.

Rovers: Sainty, Humble, Lilley, Rutherford, B. Cushlow, Cavanagh (A. Arnell), Foreman, Stevens, J. Cushlow (sin bin), Wise, Power (c), D. Smith, Kirton, Wallis (Watson), White. Sub not used: Campbell.

West Hartlepool: Todd, Lambert, Edwards, Hodgson, Weegram, Moss, Tighe (c), Carr, Sawyer (sin bin), Robinson, Rudd, Davies, D. Boatman, Myers, J. Boatman (Miller). Sub not used: Hare, Norris.

Referee: Mike Hodgson (Durham Society)