Hilditch seals late win for West Hartlepool

West Hartlepool are held at bay by Durham City

West Hartlepool are held at bay by Durham City

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Will Hilditch scored the winner five minutes from time as West Hartlepool extended their gap at the top of North One East to eight points after beating Durham City 14-10.

The league leaders produced a lacklustre performance but the winger’s late score ensured West scraped home at Brinkburn to extend their unbeaten run to a nine games.

City made it very hard for us.

West gifted City the lead when a simple pass from stand-off Arnie Stevenson sent Bradley Pears away and he slipped a tackle to score.

The home response was immediate as West put together probably the best passage of play in the match. West retained the ball through numerous phases and worked slowly upfield for Gav Painter to ghost through the defensive line to score under the posts, converting himself.

West continued to dominate possession without really threatening and the best chance would ultimately lead to City going back in front.

The hosts worked some space on the left but the final pass was intercepted and only a good chase back from Eldon Myers prevented a length of the field try.

Myers did have to concede a five-metre scrum in the right corner and from it, Durham moved the ball through the backs where winger Garry Izomor got over the line despite the attention of two defenders.

Conditions were not great and when West kept the ball in hand it was only a handful of phases before it went to ground.

West’s best chance came midway through the half when carries from Sam Miller and Peter Youll set up an overlap on the short side where Joe Willis who was taken out by a high tackle from the covering defender.

A penalty try looked plausible but, instead the referee awarded a penalty but West couldn’t take advantage.

With time running out, West got the little bit of luck needed to get back in the game.

Half-time sub Aaron Myers popped up in the centre and chipped through towards the goal line. Peter Youll slid in with two defenders but no-one was able to collect and Hilditch was on hand to ground the loose ball, Painter adding the conversion.

City had a chance to respond in the closing minutes with a penalty kicked into the 22 but the resulting line-out was lost and with it went any hopes of salvaging the game.

In an odd conclusion the visitors decided to settle for the losing bonus point and kicked the ball off the field when time expired.

The fact West were still able to win despite such a miserable afternoon is testament to the confidence the players have from this winning run but to keep it going they will have to play much better at Alnwick on Saturday.

West head coach Iain Dixon said: “City made it very hard for us, and the weather certainly had an affect on the game, so we will take the win and try to learn some lessons from it.

“Our decision-making needs to be better when conditions are as cold and slippery as this and we need to play a simpler game and not try to throw the ball around quite so much.

“On the positive side we showed plenty of spirit and patience and the winning try eventually came, which we just about deserved.”

West: Southern, Hilditch, E Myers, Youll, Willis, G Painter, R Painter, Hogan, Rollins, Coates, Boatman, Bunter, Barker, Maddison, Miller. Subs used: Edwards, Wood, A Myers

Tries: G Painter, Hilditch. Cons: G Painter 2

Durham City: Scott, Izomor, Pears, Buchan, White, Stevenson, Armstrong, Hay, Mackay, Lyall, Showler, Whitfield, Wilkinson, Dominick, Dent.

Subs used: Holden, Hogg, Pratt

Tries: Pears, Izomor

Referee: Tom Hurdley (Northumberland)

Sin-bin: Izomor