West Hartlepool ease to comfortable win
West Hartlepool rounded off their season with a routine 50-17 win over bottom club Beverley but thanks to other results they couldn't improve on their fourth place in North One East.
West started the day needing a win, an Alnwick loss and an 86-point difference swing in their favour to move above the Northumbrians into third place.
The 33-point victory was short of what they would have hoped for before kick-off and when news of Alnwick’s 43-10 win at champions Doncaster filtered through the margin of victory proved irrelevant.
In truth, the score-line probably wasn’t a true reflection of the game as for long periods Beverley were close and looked threatening in attack.
The idea of concentrating on the points difference largely drifted away as we toiled to a lead of 31-17 with 10 minutes to go.
But on the back of a typically tenacious performance from Ryan Painter, West added three tries in the last 10 minutes to put a gloss on the final score.
The game began with a guard of honour for Owen Bennett, the Horden stalwart hanging up his boots after an illustrious career culminating in three excellent years at West.
The second row was at his best in his last game of competitive rugby, getting through an enormous amount of work and providing the leadership in the pack that West will doubtless miss next season.
Bennett aside, it has been a year of real youth in the West first XV and as soon as the whistle went to start the game that theme continued.
With only 30 seconds played, Liam Checksfield raced away from inside his own half to score the first try of the afternoon.
Beverley pulled a penalty back on 16 minutes through the boot of Phil Duboulay but Jay Corbett added West’s second try five minutes later when he crashed over a few phases after a line-out close to the visitors’ line.
It didn’t open the floodgates as some might have expected with Beverley bouncing back and showing some good touches in attack.
Flanker Alex McPeake cut through the defence after some nice build-up play and his try and Duboulay’s conversion closed the gap to 12-10.
A minute before the break, Checksfield was at it again, this time capitalising on a turnover from Aaron Myers inside West’s 22 and outpacing the covering defence to race all the way under the posts.
It gave the home side a more comfortable half-time lead but it hadn’t been the one-sided affair some were expecting.
Ryan Painter broke from the base of a scrum just two minutes into the second half and despite losing a boot on the way, scored under the posts for the first of his three tries. Brother Gav somehow missed the conversion after trying to drop over a quick one.
Beverley still weren’t to be outdone and slippery centre Tom Hicks wriggled through a few tackles to score with Duboulay again adding the extras.
Peter Youll finished off West’s best move of the match for a try on 62 minutes when Luke Mallinson ran back a kick and after beating the first few defenders Gav Painter provided the link for Youll to go over.
Ryan Painter had been a real standout performer and he added two quick-fire tries in the last 10 minutes. The first once again came from the base of an attacking scrum and the second, completing his hat-trick, was a superb solo effort – chipping ahead from a tap penalty and gathering himself to finish off the try.
Referee Mark Jude found a few minutes injury time and it was enough for Aaron Myers to complete the scoring, breaking through the midfield defence and easily rounding full-back Junior Tupai.
West: Fewster, Willis, Checksfield, Youll, Mallinson, G Painter, R Painter, Hogan, Rollins, Coates, Bennett, Bunter, Corbett, Myers, Boatman. Reps: Angus, Atkins, Butcher.
Tries: Checksfield 2, Corbett, R Painter 3, Youll, Myers. Cons: G Painter 5
Beverley: Tupai, Williams, Graham, Hicks, Smith, Duboulay, Robotham, Morris, Renwick, Wong, Tunde, Regardsoe, Hancock, McPeake, Courtney. Reps: Brant, Lock, Gill.
Tries: McPeake, Hicks. Cons: Duboulay 2. Pen: Duboulay
YC: Tunde, Robotham
Referee: Mark Jude [Durham Society]