West Hartlepool's six of the best in key win against Dinnington
West Hartlepool triumphed in their must-win game against fellow strugglers Dinnington, scoring six tries in the process.
In attack, the home side looked threatening throughout the game, with ball carriers in the forwards regularly crossing the gain line.
The backs also looked more dangerous than in recent weeks but defensively it was more of a mixed bag with some periods of solid work but occasional lapses in concentration.
Dinnington had the first attack of the day and came away with early points thanks to a nice drop goal from fly-half Morgon Bunting.
Gavin Painter should have answered back immediately with a simple penalty in front of the posts but pushed it wide to the left.
West did get on the board soon after though with Liam Checksfield bursting through a couple of tackles before feeding skipper Carl Miller to score the try, Painter converting.
Painter should have extended the lead after 12 minutes but pushed another penalty across the posts from a very kickable position and his long-range drop goal attempt from the restart fell well short.
Dinnington took advantage and centre Tyle Stimpson caused problems with a driving run and chip ahead from halfway.
West didn’t deal with the bouncing ball and although the initial surge for the line was halted short, simple passing along the line led to a walk-in for Dean McAulay.
Ryan Painter regained lead soon after with two tries in three minutes.
The first came from a five-metre scrum. With the defence seemingly expecting a number-eight pick-up, the scrum-half was able to evade the covering tackler and stretch for the line.
The second score took advantage of a good passage of play featuring Checksfield and Gavin Painter before Ryan finishing things off with a typical dart.
Painter converted both tries for a 21-10 lead.
Bunting pulled three points back with a penalty five minutes before the break but West responded immediately with a superbly finished try from Checksfield.
The winger received the ball with only his opposite number to beat and went outside him in fine style before turning on the pace to ensure he wouldn’t be caught.
Painter again converted for a half time score of 28-13 and the four-try bonus point already secured.
When Will Hilditch scored eight minutes into the second half, it looked like West could run away with the game.
The winger was the grateful recipient of two Dinnington players challenging each other for an up-and-under in their own in-goal area and the loose ball fell nicely for Hilditch to touch down.
Rather than continue to rack up the tries, the intensity level appeared to drop and Dinnington finished the final quarter the stronger side.
They got a second try from a quick tap penalty and West needed a quick response from an Andy Turner try to keep any hopes of a fightback at bay.
Dinnington were now throwing caution to the wind and a hopeful boot upfield was well covered by Ryan Painter who collected and slid into touch only to throw the ball away and concede a penalty and get 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
The visitors took full advantage and worked the position for a rolling maul try in the left corner.
All thoughts were now turning to looking for one more score in the five minutes of stoppage time to claim a bonus point.
With only four points between the sides in the table at kick-off time, the additional point would have seen Dinnington cling on to 12th place but West held them out for a well-deserved win.
The run up to Christmas will be a season-defining one with this game followed by a trip to bottom side Northern on Saturday, then two successive home games.
Head Coach Stuart Hardy said: “We were very good in the first half with some strong running from the backs, but once we’d got the bonus point we tailed off a bit.
“That was perhaps understandable and the most important thing was that we played with plenty of energy and confidence.
“If we keep that up we will soon move up the league.”
West: Austwicke, Hilditch, Youll, G Painter, Checksfield, Southern, R Painter, Coates, Rollins, Key, Linighan, Bunter, Miller, Maddison, Turner.
Reps: Foulds, Beales, RaffertyTries: Miller, R Painter 2, Checksfield, Hilditch, Turner
Cons: G Painter 5YC: R Painter
Dinnington: Williams, Humphries, D Trueman, Stimpson, A Trueman, Bunting, Francis, Woodcock, Corker, Mackay, Nawaqanibau, Leitch, Rodgers, Donnelly, McAulay.
Reps: Shaw, Bonsall, CoxTries: McAulay, Rodgers, Corker
DG: Bunting YC: DonnellyReferee: Tony Jenkins [Durham Society]