Hartlepool Rovers 27 RF Oakes XV 29
Simon Rutherford

Hartlepool Rovers 27 RF Oakes XV 29

By R&O - May 18 2006
Hartlepool Rovers matched a strong RF Oakes XV all the way through the RF Oakes Memorial Match and actually led 27-15 with only five minutes on the clock before two tries in two minutes saw the invitation side take the win.

The Rovers’ performance against a team built around the players of Mowden Park, Middlesbrough and West Hartlepool showed what the side is capable of when they play as a unit and to their potential. All the players used contributed and if this performance can be taken into next season and consistently turned out every week then Rovers can make an impression in what is looking like a very tough North Two East and one where complacency and poor displays will be mercilessly punished.


The Friaragemen fell 10-0 behind when the Oakes’ side showed their intentions to run and pass at speed and Lee Richardson and Gareth Kerr both crossed for tries as a result of some impressive handling and pacy running.


Rovers fought back and, despite being tackled near the try line, Gareth Foreman forced his way over and Simon Rutherford was then driven over the line after a catch and maul from a lineout, the veteran centre emerging with the ball to make the score 10-10.


Tech skipper, Steve Jones, was impressing the sun drenched crowd with his efforts in defence and attack and he showed his pace and finishing abilities when he scorched home from 40 metres out, beating the lightning fast Danny Weegram to the line. Having been 10-0 down, Rovers now had the lead as half time approached 15-10.


The Oakes’ captain Gareth Kerr was in fine form and causing the White Shirts’ defence problems and he raced in for a long distance score just after the break and both sides were then forced to defend and tackle well as chances were created in both halves of the pitch.


Lewis Humble had been involved in several good moves and he set off upfield after receiving from Phil Hall and a swerving run took him to the Oakes’ 22 where he sucked in Richardson before handing the ball to Andrew Arnell who managed to ground the ball despite being tackled on the line by James Masshedar. Foreman added the conversion and the Friaragemen held a 22-15 lead after 63 minutes.


On 75 minutes, this became 27-15 and, potentially matchwinning, when a tremendous drive to the line saw Foreman get the scoring credit but he couldn’t convert his own try.


Immediately from the kick off, the Oakes XV went on the attack and, after being tackled on the line, Martin Lithgo, turned provider from the next play for Richardson to get his second try. Lee Bargett’s conversion was good and the lead had been cut to 27-22.


The Oakes’ coach Kevan Oliphant sensed a comeback and he urged his players on and his captain Gareth Kerr played his part to the letter by steaming forward and putting Richardson for a hat trick. The conversion was added by Bargett for his side to lead 29-22.


Play did restart and, three minutes into added time, Rovers won a penalty in the Oakes’ 22. The kick would have been difficult and in the Oakes’ tradition, it was run but Michael Walton was tackled just short of the line and a penalty to touch brought play to an end.


Rovers: Sainty, Humble, Lilley, Rutherford, B. Cushlow, Robinson, Foreman, Wise, J. Cushlow, Howard, Power (c), D. Smith, Jones, Kirton, Grazier. Subs used: P. Hall, A. Arnell, Travis, Cook, Walton, Watson, M. Sawyer.


RF Oakes XV: Richardson (Middlesbrough), B. Kerr (Stockport), G. Kerr (Mowden Park) (c), Guoinett (Mowden Park), Weegram (West Hartlepool), Baggert (Middlesbrough), Lithgo (Seaton Carew), Carr, Sawyer (both West Hartlepool), Millington, Dodd (both Mowden Park), Eddy (Gloucester), Gilbraith (West Hartlepool), Appleyard (Seaton Carew), Wilkes (Mowden Park). Subs used: Masshedar, Norris, Garside (all West Hartlepool), Littlefair (Mowden Park).


Referee: Dave Sawyer (Durham Society)