Saturday, December 2nd 2006, Allens West
There may only have been two points separating these two teams come full time at Allens West but in terms of mood and emotion the difference between these Durham & Northumberland 2 rivals could not have been more cavernous.
Having led 15-3 at the break, Yarm, the league’s bottom club, had seen their lead wiped out by a determined second half display from the Hartlepool team and, as a result, remain in the relegation zone.
Yarm’s grief at the final whistle was exacerbated by the fact that this was a game they could have easily, and no doubt many of their supporters would argue should have, won. But, despite the cruel reverse suffered by the hosts, credit must be extended to the visitors whose team spirit and perseverance in the second half was outstanding. It could have been easy for Tech to fold when, midway through the second half, they still trailed by 12 points despite their best efforts. But, refusing to give up, they tore into their opponents and deservedly came away with the two converted tries they needed for victory. In the run in to what could prove to be a tense finish to the season, Tech’s team spirit and refusal to give up could prove crucial.
Tech chairman John Dove spoke highly of such character after the game. “This was never going to be an easy game given Yarm’s results at home this season.
“Full credit must go to the lads for sticking to the task and coming away with the two points. It was a tough game and this is a great result”.
One thing that this match did highlight was the need for teams to possess a reliable goal kicker. Where Yarm full back Salter failed to convert all three of Yarm’s tries plus a fairly simple penalty, Ian Wilson notched two tricky conversions and a first half penalty. Although prone to an off day every now and then, there are few kickers in this league who can match him when his confidence is high.
Yarm had taken the lead after just 8 minutes. Clever utilisation of the handy downfield wind had allowed home fly half Shaw to pin Tech in their own 22. From one of the resultant lineouts, the onrushing Salter charged Tech’s attempted clearance down. Yarm secured possession and number 8 Shaun Scott finally stretched over.
Excellent work by the Tech forwards, Kevin Cook in particular, allowed the visitors to march play into the home 22 where an 11th minute penalty allowed Wilson to reduce the deficit to 5-3. The same player should have put Tech 6-5 in front moments later after his own fine break and more great work from the blue pack had manufactured a penalty in front of the posts. But rather than take the lead Tech chose to run the ball. Although Howard was unlucky not to ground the ball in the resultant attack, taking the three points may have been the better option.
Yarm escaped and punished Tech further on 25 minutes with their second try. Another good kick to the Tech 22 by Shaw put pressure on Nigel Bulmer who was forced into conceding a scrum. From this Salter latched onto the initial pass and made a telling break before sending outside centre Steve Gibson over.
Salter missed a penalty attempt on 31 minutes but continued pressure from the home team meant a further score was never far away and three minutes into injury time they grabbed their reward.
A knock on five metres from the Tech line gave Yarm an attacking scrum. A poor initial pass from Rowlands saw a maul develop on the 22 and after some slight advance, Scott broke off to dash over untouched for his second try. Another missed conversion meant the score stood at 15-3 at half time.
But playing with the wind in the second half Tech began to exert some real pressure on the yellow shirts. Wilson narrowly missed two early penalty attempts, albeit from the half way line, and with his powerful right boot being able to propel the ball into Yarm 22 with regularity the hosts never looked comfortable defending their lead. Ian Pinchen, who gave another fine display when he came on, added more thrust to the Tech pack and with forwards beginning to hit rucks with power and conviction Tech were rarely short of ball to play with at the breakdown.
Sloppy mistakes and some determined Yarm defence kept Tech at bay until 64 minutes when, following an attacking scrum, the ball was sent wide to Richard Foster who slipped through the defence to power into the left corner. Wilson added a marvellous conversion with the aid of the far post.
The momentum had now thoroughly shifted in favour of the visitors and a second try seemed almost inevitable. A penalty in favour of Tech was quickly taken and excellent support appeared to see Cook driven under the posts. Although the referee judged the ball to be held up there was no stopping Tech from the scrum. Williamson, who gave excellent service from the scrum all game, made space by moving right and his pass to Foster saw the centre breeze through the defence for the try. Wilson converted to move his team 17-15 in front.
The Tech players and supporters punched the air with delight. Yarm sank to their knees.
Yarm 15 (15)
Tries: Scott (8, 40(+3)), Gibson (25)
Tech 17 (3)
Tries: Foster (64, 79)
Cons: Wilson (64, 79)
Pen: Wilson (11)
Scoring sequence (Yarm listed first):
5-0 (T) 5-3 (P) 10-3 (T) 15-3 (T) HT 15-8 (T) 15-10 (C) 15-15 (T) 15-17 (C) FT
Salter, Murphy, Gibson, Rowland, Ansboro, Shaw, Rowlands; Clark, Smithson, Doherty, Passman, Flight, Groves, Bate, Scott. Subs: West, Fishpool, Barfield (all used)
Scrums 12, Attacking scrums 1, Scrums won on own put in 12, Scrums lost on own put in 0, Pens awarded 8, Kicked at goal 1 (1 miss), Kicked for touch 7, Ran 0, Lines won on own throw 10, Lines lost on own throw 3, Free kicks 0
Cole, Bulmer, Donnelly, Cheshire, Brown, Wilson, Williamson; Thompson, Hamilton, Dove, Jukes, Wray, Howard, Cook, Stockdale. Subs: Palmer, Pinchen, Foster (all used)
Scrums 7, Attacking scrums 4, Scrums won on own put in 7, Scrums lost on own put in 0, Pens awarded 13, Kicked at goal 3 (2 misses), Kicked for touch 5, Ran 5, Lines won on own throw 10, Lines lost on own throw 11, Free kicks 2
Referee: Keith Muir (Durham)