Six of the best as Hartlepool Rovers cane Gosforth
Hartlepool Rovers hit form in superb fashion on Saturday in a six-try demolition job on Gosforth at the Friarage.
Saturday’s date on home turf had been billed as ‘must win’ and that was 100% accurate.
The Whites had been woeful at Redcar, were then full value for their derby win over Horden and Peterlee, before imploding to South Shields Westoe.
A first bonus point of the season on top of the four points for the win, have lifted Rovers three places to eighth and within touching distance of the two clubs, Medicals and Guisborough, immediately above them.
The result was no more than Rovers deserved and the fixture list has given them the chance to immediately build on this display when they visit Novocastrians, with only one win so far this campaign, on Saturday.
The line-up for October is daunting with a home clash with Durham City followed by visits to Guisborough and Barnard Castle.
The bottom line, though, is that if Rovers can continue to reproduce this form then they should fear no team-the challenge for Rovers is to do that.
Gosforth’s kicker Mark Anderson missed two penalties in the opening four minutes before strong runs by Liam Wood and Callum Whitehead brought a 20-metre penalty that Michael Barnfield kicked to open the scoring after 12 minutes.
Anderson and Barnfield then traded three-pointers on 18 and 21 minutes to leave the hosts with a 6-3 lead.
Rovers’ first try came just after the half hour mark when Dylan Langley sacked scrum half Matty Marshall and set off for the line. He was stopped three metres out but had Whitehead on hand to take over and power over the line. Michael Barnfield’s conversion made it 13-3.
Rovers then wasted a strike against the head through over-elaboration and Michael Railton was bundled into touch after a 50 metre run for them to reach the break with what they will have felt was a disappointing lead given their pressure.
A frantic passage of play at the start of the second half ended when, after Wood and Michael Barnfield were nearly in, a maul to the line on 45 minutes saw Whitehead peel off to flatten would-be tackler Peter Gillespie to notch his second try, Michael Barnfield’s extras making the lead 20-3.
Within four minutes, the lead was extended to 25-3 when, after a forward pass robbed Wood, Railton touched down in the right hand clubhouse corner after a powerful run and dive for the line.
The Friaragemen were on fire and Railton had an even tougher path to the line after 53 minutes but he still managed to stretch in the tackle to score in the same corner and it was 30-3.
A failure to compete at an attacking lineout in the Steetley Corner brought a soft try for Darren Kelly right on the hour.
Within two minutes, Rovers had wiped this score out with Steven Barnfield picking up the ball, dummying, and then swerving home from the away 22, brother Michael converting.
The final try came when Railton broke from midfield looking for his hat-trick but this time it was Adam Smith who got the chance to get on the scoresheet and his try and another Michael Barnfield’s conversion made the score 44-8.
“I thought our fitness in the second half told and we also scored points when we were down to 14 men,” said player-coach Steve Smith after the final whistle.
“Things came together today which was pleasing and shows that an excellent training session on Thursday night paid off.
“I’m pleased for Nathan Raynor who made his debut today and for Michael Barnfield who I thought ran the line well.”
Rovers: M Railton, Rochester, S Barnfield, Gunn, A Smith, M Barnfield, Pelser, S Smith, Maguire, R Clayton, Langley, Raynor, Church, Wood, Whitehead (c). Subs used: D Smith, Little, Fawcett. Tries: Whitehead 31, 45; Railton 49, 53; S Barnfield 62; A Smith 69; conversions: M Barnfield 31, 45, 62, 69; penalties: M Barnfield 12, 21
Gosforth: Gillespie, Heffernan, Hawthorn, Stephenson, Cumiskey, Anderson (c), Marshall, Black, Gavin, Morris, Scott, Miller, Tucker, Locke, Kelly. Subs used: Lyon, Burton, Camplejohn. Try: Kelly 60; penalty: Anderson 18
Sin bin: Rochester 42; Whitehead 58
Referee: Paul Mackings (Durham)
Other results: Consett 26 Redcar 11; Durham City 55 Novocastrians 14; Gateshead 32 Barnard Castle 25; Guisborough 14 South Shields Westoe 43; Medicals 34 Horden and Peterlee 22; Stockton 63 Ponteland 10