RUGBY REPORT: West Hartlepool 30 Huddersfield 19

TOP OF THE TABLE BATTLE: West (green) v Huddersfield YMCA
TOP OF THE TABLE BATTLE: West (green) v Huddersfield YMCA

WEST Hartlepool are moving in the right direction after going third in North One East.

And they could be in a promotion place by 4pm this Saturday if they follow up their win over form team Huddersfield YMCA by triumphing at second-placed Pocklington.

Yorkshire may not exactly be West’s happiest destination historically but they should travel down the A19 with confidence.

Iain Dixon and Peter Robinson’s team registered a super victory over a club with serious promotions of their own.

Huddersfield YMCA arrived at Brinkburn on an eight-match unbeaten run and, tellingly, had conceded only 61 points in that sequence.

But they met their match on Saturday.

True, they equalled West in the try stakes, 3-3, but the hosts had the trump card in Stuart Waites.

The stand-off landed six kicks out of six – all three conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.

His 15 points proved the difference though it was far from a one-man show.

West’s pack performed well in the set pieces, while their backs looked lively every time they attacked and scored two of the side’s three tries.

A classic spectacle it was not, both sides turned over ball and there were numerous scrum and penalty interruptions.

But West fully deserved the spoils.

“I thought we played well and ground out a good win,” said Dixon.

“If we can keep winning at home, which you have to in this league, and pick up points on the road we will do all right.

“We should be confident now of going to Pocklington and win and I don’t see any reason why we can’t.”

The home success was built on an excellent start - YMCA did not have a meaningful touch the ball for the first 17 minutes.

By that stage they were 10-0 down.

Luke Mallinson, looking confident on the wing, was put in the left corner in the sixth minute by scrum-half Ryan Painter following a five-metre scrum.

Waites converted with a majestic kick and he followed that up on 11 minutes when he landed a 30-metre drop goal as referee Matthew Riley played a penalty advantage.

And it was from a penalty that Waites made it 13-0 just before the half-hour mark.

YMCA showed their danger on 33 minutes when their pack made a powerful drive from a line-out down the right for number eight Mark Whitehead to get the touchdown. Ed Barber added the conversion.

It looked as though Huddersfield were back in it.

But West added a crucial second try 10 minutes into the second half when prop Ian Pinchen finished off a good passage of attacking play by touching down in front of the posts at the clubhouse end. Waites made it 20-7 with the conversion.

However, West were not home and dry.

On the hour, winger Thomas Bullock went over in the same left corner Mallinson scored in and three minutes later they scored their third try when their star turn Adam Ryder scored a stunning try.

YMCA won a contentious scrum on half-way and a well-worked move released Ryder with the powerful centre breaking clear including scrambling over the line after a desperate last-ditch Liam Bailey tackle.

Barber added the conversion and Huddersfield were only one point behind.

Were Huddersfield about to pull off one of their trademark tight wins?

The answer was a decisive no.

Waites landed a 67th minute penalty and six minutes later they scored the match-clinching try, the excellent Bailey’s brilliant short pass finding Colin Cheslin, whose finish matched the approach play as he scored to the left of the posts.

Inevitably, Waites converted though he needed the assistance of the right-hand upright.

YMCA made a spirited finale in a bid for two bonus points but West did not relent and they had their best victory of the season.

West: C Cheslin, Butcher, A Cheslin, Bailey, Mallinson, Waites, Painter, Pinchen, Rollins, Coates, Bennett, Hogan (Atkins 65), D Boatman, Jon Boatman, Miller.

Subs (not used): Dixon, Edwards.

Tries: Mallinson 6; Pinchen 50; C Cheslin 73. Cons: Waites 6, 50, 73. Pens: Waites 11, 28, 67. Drop goal: Waites 11

Penalties 14, kicked 3, missed 0; Line-outs won 13; Scrums won 15 (one against the head)

Huddersfield YMCA: Johnson, Morton, Ryder, Stead, Bullock, Barber, Willans, Wrafter, Hill, Slater, Bell, Housley, Sharrock, Hodge, Whitehead.

Subs (used) Reps: Murphy, Steve Dyke, Stu Dyke.

Tries: Whitehead 33; Bullock 60; Ryder 63. Cons: Barber 33, 63.

Penalties 16, kicked 0, missed 0; Line-outs won 14; Scrums won 9

Referee: Matthew Riley (Manchester)

Sin-bin: Sharrock 40, D Boatman 52, Johnson 77, Pinchen 80