Saturday, September 23rd 2006, Benfield Road
If Tech’s aim really is to bounce straight back into Durham & Northumberland 1 at the end of this season then Saturday’s performance was obviously a cunning subterfuge. Put simply Tech were awful.
A respectable win at Novocastrians and an encouraging win over a strong West Hartlepool Stags XV had given Tech reason for optimism in the season’s early stages. But for pretty much the entire 80 minutes of this game, one or two 5 minute spells aside, Tech looked anything but the title or promotion contenders that rumour hath it is their stated goal for this campaign.
Wallsend on the other hand were rightly satisfied with their afternoon’s work. Their third league win on the trot means that they go into round 4 of league action as the competitions early pace setters and their players were delighted at the early scalp of a team they consider to be one of their main rivals for glory in this league. Although they appear to be a limited team, a big pack of forwards and a fly half who can kick, they played to their limitations well and over the course of the match were very much worthy of their victory.
After only 10 minutes the signs that the scene had been set for another case of Tech self-destruction were already on view. Although the handling had been poor, a feature that was to continue for much of the afternoon, the most worrying aspect up to that point had been the anonymous performances at the line out. Missing Phil Jukes and Jim Wray, Tech were deprived of their usual linchpins of the line and for much of the game the lineout was a complete mess. Stats of total lineouts 19, lineouts won 11, lineouts lost 8, tell their own story.
Tech chairman John Dove lamented this fact after the game. “If you can’t secure the majority of your own lineout ball then your options are severely limited. You can’t expect to win games if you’re giving away possession that should be yours”.
No such problems for Wallsend and their first try on 12 minutes came from a successful lineout. A rolling maul saw the ball taken to the Tech line and although there was the hint of a knock on in the build up Hall was on hand to finish off the move. Hamil failed to convert.
Wallsend proceeded to dominate the majority of the half and although a better team may have punished Tech more severely Tech’s defence was solid, one tackle by Simon Cavey on opposing winger Ardley was of the very highest quality. Tech did find some form towards the end of the half when they took play deep into home territory, primarily through their forwards, and won a couple of penalties. Jon Cole however failed to capitalise.
It took only 5 minutes of the second half for Wallsend to add to their slender half time advantage. Tech were penalised for being offside at a ruck and Hamil, who was influential throughout for the home team, added the three points. Better was to follow for the men in green. From the restart number 8 Christie made a telling break into the Tech half and offloaded to his supporting backs to take play into the Tech 22 where Wallsend were awarded a scrum. From this Hamil made a fine break and scrum half Robison looped round to finish off an easy try which again went unimproved.
Cole finally put his team on the board with a penalty shortly after and then on 60 minutes Tech put together their best move of the game when Allison picked up possession in broken play and produced a superb run to take him deep into the home half. He then fed Williamson who drew the defenders to give the prolific Foster room to power home. Cole’s missed conversion however meant that Tech still needed a try to draw level and although they finished relatively well they never threatened to do this.
Tech still have an excellent chance of promotion this season. They have one of the stronger squads in the league and will not face teams much better than Wallsend. But as Saturday proved, they cannot afford to take anything for granted.
Tries: Hall (12), J Robison (48)
Pen: Hamil (45)
Try: Foster (60)
Pen: Cole (51)
Huntley, Ardley, Metcalf, Barnfarther, Simpson, Hamil, J Robison; Hood, Hall, Watson, Hughes, Eccles, A Robison, Slater, Christie (c)
Scrums 16, Attacking scrums 2, Scrums won on own put in 14, Scrums lost on own put in 2 (1 against head), Pens awarded 10, Kicked at goal 1, Kicked for touch 6, Ran 3, Lines won on own throw 10, Lines lost on own throw 0
Allison, Cavey, Foster, Corrigan, Cole, Cheshire, Siddle; Thompson, Hamilton, Howard, Stockdale, Pinchen, Best, Brown, Cameron (c), Subs used: Metson, Williamson, Sub not used: Swales
Scrums 9, Attacking scrums 0, Scrums won on own put in 5, Scrums lost on own put in 4 (2 against head), Pens awarded 15, Kicked at goal 2 (1 miss), Kicked for touch 7, Ran 6, Lines won on own throw 11, Lines lost on own throw 8