Hartlepool Rovers 19 Percy Park 11
Jared Stevens

Hartlepool Rovers 19 Percy Park 11

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers came out on top in a Friarage mudbath with Percy Park, the match being played in terrible weather conditions.

Park were the first to show and, after Philip Morse had missed two pretty routine penalties and Thomas Turnbull a drop goal, took the lead when the latter put another drop goal attempt over from 35 metres.

The Roversí pack then got the upperhand and camped in the Park 22 where Dan Cavanagh judged a diagonal kick to the inch for Ben Cushlow to collect and cross in the left corner. The lead for Rovers was short lived with Morse kicking a 20 metre penalty after 26 minutes.

On 30 minutes, the hosts could have regained the lead after a good break by Paul Kirton and Andrew Lilley but the latter didnít get the overlapping Lewis Humble into play and this was costly as Park swept upfield to score a disputed try. With Humble and Gareth Foreman taking an arm each, they bundled Chris Dunn into touch flattening the corner flag in the process only for both sides to be amazed as Rob White awarded a try, despite flanker Mal Donald sportingly telling the referee it was not a try.

A typical Simon Rutherford run nearly saw him go all the way and Cavanagh cross in the corner but this time Mr. White was spot on in ruling the number ten had hit the flag as he went over the line.

Despite the poor conditions, both sides were trying to run the ball and Chris Sainty raced up the left wing on 49 minutes but the supporting Ben Cushlow unluckily knocked on. Three minutes later, however, Colin Watson broke clear and ran into the Park 22 where he gave Foreman the scoring pass. Sainty converted and Rovers had a 12-11 lead. Foreman then had a chance to streak home after a combined effort from Jason White and Watson but he couldnít grasp the pass.

The scrum half nearly produced a try for Humble on 61 minutes when he kicked parallel to the touchline bringing a good retrieve of the ball by Mark Clarkson under pressure from the Roversí winger.

The Friaragemen amazingly turned down a fairly routine penalty won after a good run by Darren Smith and it was three points lost as the tap move failed to be converted into a try.

After 70 minutes, Rovers had the benefit of some luck. Cavanagh kicked crossfield to the Oakes Stand where sub John-Paul Fraser failed to collect the ball and Rovers latched onto it to spin it through the hands of Ben Cushlow, Sainty and Lilley who unselfishly passed the ball behind the posts to Jared Stevens for a farewell try on his last home appearance. Saintyís conversion meant Park had ten minutes in which to score twice, Rovers leading 19-11.

The next phase of attacks by Park were weathered by the Whites who could have scored right at the end when a great move started near his own line by White saw the ball passed at speed between Foreman, Rutherford, Lilley, Ben Cushlow and Darren Smith before a Park knock on in their 22 halted the move and brought the whistle.

These two points were well won by Rovers and both sides deserve great credit for trying to play enterprising rugby in appalling conditions. Next up in two weeks is a trip to Morpeth although Rovers may be in friendly action next Saturday.

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

Percy Park: Casey, Clarkson, D. Griffiths, M. Walton, Morse, (Fraser), Turnbull, Davison, Denny, Dunn, Neill (Biggins), Fidler, C. Griffiths, Donald , Ponton (S. Walton), Dixon (c).

Referee: Rob White (Durham Society)