WEST HARTLEPOOL earned a dramatic late victory against Pocklington with all 13 points coming through Stu Waites.
The 25-year old held his nerve with a penalty three minutes from time to give West a much-needed win at Brinkburn after two successive defeats.
Despite the low score, the game didn’t lack try-line activity and Pocklington will doubtless be kicking themselves they didn’t return home with more than a solitary losing bonus point .
With the benefit of a diagonal wind, the Yorkshire side dominated the second half. They were held up over the line four times and forced out at the corner flag as they hunted a game-winning try.
West had defended manfully for the lion’s share of 35 second half minutes but it looked like the visitors had snatched the win when scrum-half Ben Reece jinked through a crowd of bodies to score and level the game at 10-10.
The conversion seemed a formality but it was skewed well wide and left West with a chance.
A penalty opportunity came seconds after the restart and Waites stepped up to slot through the posts, giving West back the lead and ultimately the victory.
The first half was a very even contest with Pocklington enjoying most of the early possession but it was Waites who had the first two opportunities for points however both long range penalties slid wide.
West almost had the first try when a miscued clearance kick from the in-goal area fell toward Liam Bailey but he couldn’t control it and knocked-on.
Moments later Adam Coates charged clear up the left touchline and got the ball down by the corner flag only to be adjudged to have put a foot in touch a couple of metres short.
Finally, the opening score came on 28 minutes with a Waites penalty from closer range, but it was Pocklington who replied immediately with the first try. Their rolling maul looked a useful weapon and after they advanced from the halfway line to the 22 a neat break down the short side brought a simple finish for winger Tim Nixon.
West had another great chance with a 2v1 on the right after a good break from Waites but his pass was just in front of Scott Butcher.
He made amends on the stroke of half-time though, capitalising on a mix-up in the Pocklington midfield, collecting a deflected pass and racing in under the posts. He added the conversion and almost made a full house just before the whistle when his drop goal attempt was tipped and struck the cross-bar.
The second-half belonged to the visitors, from an attacking point of view at least. West’s defence should take enormous credit for hanging on as Pocklington saw numerous chances disintegrate.
They turned down several kickable penalties in favour of the catch and drive but time and again it was disrupted or held up over the line.
A cross-field kick looked to have brought the breakthrough but a superb cover tackle from Waites denied them once more. Number-eight Marcus Britland thought he’d scored after a quickly-taken free-kick but referee Adam Carpenter ruled a knock-on.
When Reece capitalised on messy line-out ball to weave his way through the defenders it looked like his side’s efforts had finally been rewarded, but Waites had the last word
“This was a really hard fought win,” said coach Iain Dixon.
“We lost both centres during the game which meant we had to move Jonny Boatman into the backs, but we readjusted and deserved the points.
“Both sides squandered chances to score, but our defence was solid when it had to be.
“We also had some tremendous performances from the likes of Owen Bennett and young Sam Miller as well as from Ryan Painter and Stu Waites at half-back.”
West: C Cheslin, Butcher, A Cheslin, Bailey, Youll, Waites, Painter, Pichen, Dixon, Coates, Hogan, Bennett, Barker, J Boatman, Miller. Subs: D Boatman, Angus, Mallinson
Try: Waites. Con: Waites. Pen: Waites
Pocklington: Allen, Hardy, J Britland, Holbrough, Nixon, Massie, Reece, Webber, Birch, Helme, Peters, Wilson, Durkin, Brown, M Britland. Subs: Elliott, Kelly, Stephenson
Tries: Nixon, Reece
Referee: Adam Carpenter (West Midlands)