Sheffield 36 Hartlepool Rovers 7

Sheffield 36 Hartlepool Rovers 7

By R&O - May 18 2006
This defeat was the fifth on the trot for Hartlepool Rovers with Sheffield completing the double following a 43-10 opening league day win at the Friarage.

The result was even more of a disappointment to Rovers who had helped to make the pitch playable after heavy rain over lunchtime. Abbeydale Park was waterlogged after a deluge and the kick off was put back to 3:30pm by the referee in an attempt to salvage the game.


It eventually kicked off on a surface of grass, sand and patches under water but the next eighty minutes left the Friaragemen, and the loyal band of supporters that had made the trip, wondering what the clean up had taken out of them, there being no help forthcoming from the host club’s players.


After some early pressure from Sheffield, both sides took some time to measure up each other but it was Sheffield who would take the lead after 10 minutes. Attacking lineouts from two penalties in the Rovers 22 saw the home pack maul to the line with Andy Kelly getting the scoring credit. Tom Gray slotted a touchline conversion and it was game on.


On 27 minutes, the Friaragemen levelled the scores when determined tackling by Steve Wallis and Dan Cavanagh halted a home move and Gareth Foreman was alert to the loose ball to kick ahead and win the race to the touchdown. Chris Sainty added the conversion from the 22 and it was 7-7.


Rovers attacked straight away from the kick off through a Cavanagh run and a drive by the eight but Sheffield held out and the greasy ball was then responsible for a succession of knock ons by Rovers in their next three attacks.


In the closing stages of the first half, referee Richard Whelan sent Darren Smith to the sin bin, meaning Rovers would play the first ten minutes of the second period with only 14 men.


Whilst Rovers were a man down, Sheffield regained the lead on 45 minutes when Joe Hutchinson finished off a drive from the 22 and Gray’s touchline kick added the conversion points. Smith had, in fact, only just returned to the fray when the lead became 19-7 with Ryan Amos breaking from halfway and putting in Darren Link for a try.


A penalty to Sheffield around 30 metres out was extended by 10 metres and the three points were declined with the lineout option bringing a try for Tommy Marples, Gray again converting with a fine kick and a 26-7 scoreline.


The Friaragemen’s woes continued when Andrew Lilley was sin binned after what seemed a good tackle but which was the subject of some posturing by several home players.


As when Smith was absent, the loss of Lilley also brought a score with Jack Hague grabbing a ball meant for Mark Power and having a simple run to the line.


Rovers then lost Foreman who had been struggling with his ankle injury sustained against West, Phil Hall replacing him and Colin Watson then coming on for Jason White. Whilst Rovers were still adapting to these changes, Sheffield scored their sixth and final try when an impressive running and passing move saw Amos defy Sainty’s tackle to get over the line.


The visitors hit back as the match entered stoppage time with a move started by Wallis on his 22 and contributions from Power and Jonny Cushlow and a Cavanagh penalty saw them camp on the home line. The defence held out, however, and a 5 metre scrum to Sheffield brought the final whistle.


This was a disappointing result given the sides had been level at half time but Sheffield got the upper hand in the forwards and the better possession this gave the home backs was crucial. Some of the team play for Rovers was disjointed and a better performance will need to be displayed in the Friarage encounter with Percy Park on Saturday.


Sheffield: Bonner, J. Cox (C. Cox), Amos, Gray, Link, Allatt, Poste, Marples (Adamzo), Hutchinson, Coombs, Hague, Skinner (Thirlsfield), Kelly (c), Atkinson, Petrie.


Rovers: Sainty, Humble, Lilley (sin bin), Foreman (P. Hall), B. Cushlow, Cavanagh, A. Arnell, Wise, Campbell (Carroll), J. Cushlow, Power (c), D. Smith (sin bin), Kirton, Wallis, White (Watson).


Referee: Richard Whelan (Yorkshire Society)