West Hartlepool need big finish to season to avoid relegation
West Hartlepool's hopes of avoiding relegation were dealt a massive blow at Lodge Lane where rivals Dinnington took all five points in a 37-17 win.
As a result, the hosts are now four points clear of the Brinkburn side with just three games to go.
West must win at least two of them – preferably with try bonus points – to stand any chance of finishing the season outside the bottom three.
Despite the scoreline, West put on a much more cohesive and energetic away performance than of late.
There is hope that if they keep up the work rate they could clinch wins again Northern at home in two weeks’ time, and at Huddersfield YMCA on the last day of the season – the Yorkshire side this week going down 75-15 at Alnwick.
Head coach Stuart Hardy was again without a number of regulars but was full of praise for the way his side stuck to their task.
“We played some good stuff at times,” he said.
“The lads gave everything for the cause but came up a against a seasoned side which had some very big forwards battering away at the breakdown.”
West got off to the worst possible start with Zac Southern spilling the kick off and then the pack penalized at the scrum to give Chris Williams an easy three points.
The visitors were penalised no less than five times in the first eight minutes allowing Dinnington to build up a head so steam which saw second row Michael Leitch go over with Williams adding the extras.
Undaunted, West fought their way back towards the clubhouse end, earning their first penalty after 14 minutes.
The kick to the corner set up a series of drives which the home side repelled, but they were powerless two minutes later when West hooker Adam Brown dived in at the corner. Southern’s conversion from wide on the right took the score to 10-7 and West were back in the game.
However, they were dealt a blow two minutes later when skipper Andrew Rollins was unlucky to receive a yellow card for a high tackle on flanker Ryan Donnelly.
The home skipper ducking into a tackle with Rollins quick to pull his offending arm away.
Wiliams took advantage to increase Dinnington’s lead and West were unable to withstand the pressure until Rollins returned.
Their tackling let them down when powerful No 8 Will Marshall set off on a mazy run from just outside the 22. He shrugged off three tackles as he made his way under the posts to give Williams another easy conversion.
The deficit was reduced on the half hour with a penalty from Southern – Dinnington penalised for not releasing as Adam Brown again charged for the line.
West went into the break 20-10 down but without flanker Alex Barker who was sin-binned in the dying seconds of the half for coming in at the side.
Back row Chris Atkins came on after the restart to add more muscle to the West pack and there was a quick return as the visiting pack set up a series of drives in the corner with Matt Siddle taking the opportunity to get quick ball out to Southern.
The West fly half stepped inside to make space for a perfectly timed pass to send Will Hilditch in under the posts and to bring the score to within three points.
The game was very even at this stage with the next score likely to be the most important of the game. Sadly for West it went to Dinnington with replacement Dean McAulay driven over from a catch and drive with Williams’ conversion just wide.
Dinnington were now more than one score ahead and they increased their lead five minutes later when centre Johnny West was left in space on the left as the visiting defence was sucked in by a series of forward drives.
Williams was again wide but his side had secured the important try bonus point.
And they added to their haul with just five minutes left when full back Duell Truman finishing off a break up the left wing to run in under the posts to complete the scoring.
There was time for West to mount some pressure of their own with Matt Siddle seeming to dive through a mass of bodies to go over in the dying seconds but referee Mike Hurdley was unsighted.
Dinnington: Duell Trueman, Matt Shaw, Chris Williams, Johnny West, Rob Leivars, Morgan Bunting, Neil Francis, Garry Woodcock, Matt Starr, Jareth Mackay, Michael Leitch, Josh Stimpson, Tom Doughty, Ryan Donnelly (captain), Will Marshall.
Replacements (all used): Simon Bunting, Dean McAulay, Neal Dunn.
Tries: Leitch, Marshall, McAulay, West, Truman.
Cons Williams (3)
Pens Williams (2)
Yellow: Leitch (76)
West: Adam Peacock, Matt Tyers, Will Hilditch, Peter Youll, Rob Thorn, Zac Southern, Matt Siddle, Andrew Rollins (captain), Adam Brown, John Bunter, Jake Linighan, Alex Barker, Scott Butcher, Andrew Turner.
Reps Used: Chris Atkins, Johnny Hunter, Not Used: Stu Waites.
Tries: Brown, Hilditch.
Cons: Southern (2)
Pens: Southern (1)
Yellow: Rollins (20), Barker (39)
Referee: Mike Hurdley (West Yorks).