West Hartlepool hit back aginst Old Crossleyans

West (green) V Old Crossleyans.
West (green) V Old Crossleyans.

WEST Hartlepool fought back from 10 points down to complete a North One East double over Old Crossleyans.

The Crocs showed much more promise than their lowly league position suggests and put West under pressure for large parts of the game.

Indeed, they may feel aggrieved to have left Brinkburn with only a single point.

However, the defensive effort shown in the December win against Dinnington made an appearance in the final 10 minutes to hold off a committed effort from the visitors.

West head coach Iain Dixon said: “Old Crossleyans came desperate for points and they put lots of effort into their game.

“Fortunately, once we got going our tackling was up to it, and we took our opportunities and just about deserved the points.

“The wind meant it was a day for forwards and they put in a tremendous shift, but there was also lots of hard tackling from the backs.”

It hadn’t been that way for much of the game as West fell off tackles and allowed Crocs to control possession.

West had barely had the ball before the visitors scored their first try after 15 minutes.

They had already been over the line earlier only to be called back for a forward pass.

But there was no doubting their opener. The try was made by inside centre Chris Seymour who bust through the defensive line following a scrum and clung on well as it looked like he would lose the ball forward. As the last defender closed in, he slipped his pass to Billy Hammond who touched down despite the close attention of Luke Mallinson.

A strong gusting wind blowing almost straight across the pitch seemed to favour neither side but it presented a definite challenge and caused plenty of problems for the kickers and line-out throwers.

Crocs sent a couple of long kicks out on the full but still doubled their lead when a rolling maul was joined by a few of the backs and winger James Wainwright touched down at the bottom of the pile.

West bounced back quickly with a score on their first visit to the away 22.

Zac Southern marshalled the attack well and it was his inside pass to Chris Atkins which sent the flanker in for a score under the posts. The conversion in front of the posts looked straightforward but smashed into the right post to leave the Halifax team 10-5 up.

Southern had another shot at the posts from a penalty after 32 minutes but it always looked a tough ask to judge the wind and the kick drifted wide to the right.

However, West were unexpectedly level moments later.

Crossleyans kicked out their drop-out on the full and from the resulting position, West broke to the right corner where referee Carl Hall awarded the try to Mallinson despite vehement protests from the away players and touch-judge.

It didn’t bother Southern as he stepped up for the difficult conversion which hit the post and dropped over.

It was something of a surprise half-time lead as Crocs had looked quite threatening and organised in attack and West’s defence had not been up to its usual standard.

As the second half got underway, West began to show a greater degree of composure and put more pressure on the visitors.

Sustained pressure close to the line earned West a five-metre scrum and despite the ball being miscontrolled at the base, the hosts still made the most of the position and Southern slipped a nice pass to Mallinson who did well to take the ball and finish off the try from close range. The conversion once again drifted wide of the posts.

With half an hour still to play the game was nicely poised with Crocs still only a score down with West hunting for an ever-elusive try bonus point.

As it was, neither side could add any further scores despite both having chances.

West’s defence improved immensely and in turn Crocs organisation in attack evaporated with many more loose passes and sideways runners than there had been in the first half.

Scott Butcher impressed with some crucial tackles in the closing stages and by the final whistle West were pleased to hold on and start a run of home games against teams below them in the table with a win.

West: Mallinson, Johnston, Butcher, Youll, Jamieson, Southern, Painter, Coates, Wood, Rollins, Pinchen, Rafferty, Bennett, Atkins, Bailey, Boatman.

Reps: Tyers, Hogan, Rollins.

Tries: Atkins, Mallinson 2. Con: Mallinson

Old Crocs: Greaves, Sutcliffe, Jack Hammond (capt), Seymour, Wainwright, Ott, Vine, Pollard, Wheale, Day, Raman Sembi, Navneet Sembi, George Hammond, Billy Hammond, Gardiner.

Reps: Cooper, McGill, McCormack.

Tries: Wainwright, B Hammond

Sinbin: Pollar. Referee: Carl Hall (Durham)