Hartlepool Rovers slumped to a 25-14 defeat to Gosforth at the Friarage on Saturday to drop two places to sixth in Durham Northumberland One.
Fortunately for the Whites, most of the weekend’s other results went in their favour otherwise the fall could have been more substantial.
Gosforth took the lead for the first time when Dan Farquhar drove over the line.
Perhaps the worst aspect of Saturday’s defeat was the fact that it was, perhaps, not unexpected, Gosforth being something of a bogey-team, but they really should have had enough going for them to win on home turf.
What the Tynesiders might lack in ability they more than make up in support in both attack and defence; fitness and sheer desire.
These are very simple things but were more than Rovers, not for the first time against Gosforth, could cope with.
Rovers had led 14-13, but it was an uncomfortable lead and there was enough shakiness in Rovers’ play to suggest Gosforth might get a score and be able to close the game out. This they did and more with two tries in the final minutes.
The Friaragemen took a 5-0 lead in the third minute when, after declining a 24 metre penalty, Jonny Cushlow got the touchdown after laying siege to the away line from an attacking lineout.
Mark Anderson and Daz Fawcett traded three-pointers as both sides were penalised by referee Andrew Wilson at the breakdowns.
A strange decision followed when the referee brought play back for a penalty as Liam Hawthorn was in the clear and running towards the clubhouse. Matty Struthers slotted the 48 metre kick and Rovers led 8-6.
Struthers and Anderson then went wide from 42 metres and 25 metres in turn to let Rovers off the hook.
Fawcett showed the away kickers the way when he put over a 37 metre penalty after 27 minutes.
Gosforth took the lead for the first time when Dan Farquhar drove over the line, Chris Morris the scorer. Anderson’s touchline conversion making it 13-11.
Fawcett went for the posts again as the first half entered added time and his well-struck kick was good and the lead was back with Rovers 14-13.
Some better handling by Rovers and a strike against the head by Cushlow saw Andrew Dring break, but he threw a wild pass to Adam Smith that flew into touch.
Joe Little was looking dangerous and one run brought a penalty, but Fawcett went wide with a 54 th minute kick from 38 metres.
Rovers were increasingly looking bereft of ideas and wasted a penalty.
Gosforth were faring little better and Struthers wasted an opportunity by throwing a forward pass instead of going for the line himself.
The green and whites were then penalised and Anderson missed with a 35 metre drop goal.
Chris Sainty was forced to sidefoot the ball into touch on 73 minutes and Farquhar’s lineout take saw the away forwards drive over the line, Alex Dodds grounding the ball. Anderson’s touchline conversion meant Rovers, trailing 20-14 needed a converted try to regain the lead.
The White Shirts soon faced mission-impossible when Farquhar broke and put in a neat kick through with the outside of his right foot and Hawthorn was there to pick up and cross for a 25-14 lead.
Rovers hit back to try and retrieve a losing bonus point only for Liam Wood to knock on within touching distance of the line.
“We were lacklustre and had no passion at all,” said coach Carl Robinson afterwards.
“We didn’t hit the rucks and mauls and were playing the wrong areas.
“There was effort but not enough and without that and passion you can’t expect to win.”
Rovers: Sainty, Coulson, Harrison, Grand, A Smith, Fawcett, Pelser, Ross, Cushlow, Clayton, Langley, D Smith, Little, Wood, Dring (c). Subs used: Stephenson, Lloyd, Ryan
Try: Cushlow 3; penalties: Fawcett 8, 27, 40+1
Penalties awarded 8, kicked 3, missed 1; scrums won 7, 1 against the head; lineouts won 7
Gosforth: Vening, Struthers, Ashman, Locke, Hawthorn, Anderson, Marshall, Woodhams, Morris, Dodds, Tusker, Scott (c), Farquhar, Kelly, Black. Subs used: Camplejohn, Gillespie, Manfredi
Tries: Morris 70; Dodds 73; Hawthorn 78; conversions: Anderson 30, 73; penalty: Anderson 6; Struthers 14
Penalties awarded 11, kicked 2, missed 2; scrums won 11, 2 against the head; lineouts won 11
Referee: Andrew Wilson (Durham)
Other results: Horden and Peterlee 19 Gateshead 13, Medicals 12 Consett 7, Middlesbrough 45 Hartlepool 0, Northern 13 Barnard Castle 31, Novocastrians 12 Stockton 24, Ryton 3 South Shields Westoe 38.