Remembering a battle royal as West Hartlepool fought to stay on top

Twenty-five years ago, West Hartlepool were involved in a battle royal at the top of Rugby Union's Second Division.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 18 January, 2019, 10:00
A Moseley player finds himself under intense pressure from West's forwards.

And what an encounter it was when Moseley came to town.

West were clear at the top of the table but only another win at their Brierton Lane home would keep them clear of the field.

Early on, though, it looked like Moseley were going to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

It was only the lineout successes of John Dixon and Kevin Westgarth, and the clearouts of Alan Dixon, which kept West in the hunt.

The visitors’ ex-England star Simon Hodgkinson eventually opened the scoring when he slotted a penalty in front of the posts after West’s threequarters were offside.

But back came West and they pulled level on 19 minutes when Kevin Oliphant was on target with a 30-metre penalty.

More West pressure followed but it was Moseley who restored their lead on 25 minutes with a 45-metre penalty.

This seesaw game saw West pull level again when Oliphant kicked a penalty three minutes before half-time.

Another former England star, Mike Teague, was at the centre of a Moseley drive soon after the second half started but West held out.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

But the visitors’ pressure told soon after when Shillingford set up a ruck, and Kerr chipped over an easy drop goal.

Moseley were 9-6 up but back came West again to get the first try of the game.

On 51 minutes, Jonathan Wrigley buried his way through the pile-up after the forwards were brought up short. It was 11-9 to West but that man Hodgkinson was back on the scoresheet 14 minutes from time to put Moseley ahead from a magnificent penalty.

The table turned again when Glynn Evans knocked a ball from Hodgkinson’s grasp before Lancaster and Brown kicked ahead, with Brown then following up to score the try.

West were 16-12 up but they were made to suffer when Hodgkinson slotted over yet another penalty seven minutes from time to make it 16-15.

The visitors piled on the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty from inside their own half. There were three minutes left.

But this time, Hodgkinson’s long-range effort fell well short and Stabler touched down for a dropout.

West hung on for the victory which was vital as both their nearest rivals – Sale and Saracens – also won on the same weekend.