Rugby: West Hartlepool 35 Huddersfield YMCA 24, Painter’s points vital

Gavin Painter on the attack for West against Huddersfield YMCA (red) at Brinkburn. Picture by KEVIN BRADY
Gavin Painter on the attack for West against Huddersfield YMCA (red) at Brinkburn. Picture by KEVIN BRADY

Gavin Painter’s boot proved the difference as West Hartlepool launched their North One East programme with a 35-24 win over Huddersfield YMCA.

An entertaining curtain-raiser at Brinkburn saw the sides who met on the opening day of last season share eight tries in an entertaining game.

But Painter’s 15 points – three conversions and three penalties – ensured the points would goWest.

While the attacking play of each side kept the scoreboard ticking over, both coaches will surely be looking at the work in defence where neither side was made to work hard enough for the tries they scored.

Both were also guilty of giving away careless points with West shipping two interception tries and the visitors taking a quick lineout straight to Scott Butcher for an easy try.

Despite that, winning the first game at home is crucial and when Huddersfield started with a bang that end result looked a distant possibility.

YMCA raced into a 12-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes, after controlling possession. Wing Stuart Morton was first to go over, collecting a deft chip to score before centre Dom Horn got the first of his three tries when Will Hilditch tried an offload which went straight to his opponent who raced away to touch down.

West’s response was quick and decisive with Andrew Rollins crashing over from short range, Painter adding the extras, following it up with a penalty.

Butcher was on the field as an early sub and revelled in his new back row position scoring West’s second try to put his side into the lead for the first time.

The converted winger pounced on a turnover ball in midfield and used his pace to beat the covering defence, Painter again adding the conversion.

More sustained pressure led to a third try, this time from Adam Coates and with five first half minutes to play West had stormed back from 12 points down to lead 22-12.

But Horn would grab his second against the run of play when a loose pass to Zac Southern on half way was tipped in the air and fell to the grateful Horn who again raced in under the posts. Piper’s conversion cut the lead to three points but Painter added a long range penalty on the stroke of half time for a 25-19 lead at the break.#

He couldn’t repeat the feat early in the second half as a more straightforward shot drifted wide but Butcher was soon scoring his second, collecting a quick lineout from the visitors which almost looked like he was the intended recipient it fell so kindly for him and left him little to do to finish off the try and seal the bonus point.Huddersfield were still not done though and having developed a big overlap on the right Horn was again the man to finish off the move and complete his hat-trick and secure the visitors own four-try bonus.

With 20 minutes still to play Huddersfield were back on top and despite losing scrum-half Josh Bradley to the sin-bin and Painter adding another penalty goal they still threatened.

Twice they kicked for the corner but overthrew the line-out and on a third occasion the West forwards stole the ball at the front to thwart the visiting attack and ensure maximum points.

West: Mallinson, Armstrong, Youll, G Painter, Hilditch, Southern, R Painter, Coates, Rollins, Key, Hogan, Rafferty, Bunter, Turner, Barker. Subs (used): Foulds, Butcher, Linighan

Tries: Rollins, Butcher 2, Coates. Cons: G Painter 3. Pens: G Painter 3

Huddersfield YMCA: Fletcher, Morton, Clough, Horn, Bullock, Piper, Bradley, Dyke, Hill, Crickmay, Black, Housley, Tindall, Hodge, Lumb. Subs (used): Scholes, Watson, Bell

Tries: Morton, Horn 3. Cons: Piper 2

Referee: Sean White (Yorkshire)

Sin-Bin: Bradley, Rollins