CRAIG Gilmour’s hat-trick paved the way for Horden to take the honours in this Durham Northumberland One derby clash with Hartlepool Rovers.
The result, and last Tuesday’s 52-22 crushing of Stockton at Station Road, has seen Horden climb to third place in the table.
Stockton can still reclaim third spot should they beat Sunderland in their outstanding game but there is uncertainty as to whether that fixture will go ahead.
Gilmour’s three tries at Welfare Park were all typical number eight efforts: two from five-metre scrums and the other from a close range charge. They were also the Collierymen’s only touchdowns and with Rovers crossing twice the difference in the final scoreline was a reflection of the two sides’ success with the boot.
Andrew Turner has been the scourge of many teams over the years and he kicked three penalties and a conversion for an 11 points tally. Rovers’ kicking of late has been erratic to say the least and James Evens bravely accepted the kicking responsibilities but his return of two penalties wasn’t enough to seriously threaten Horden who led for all but the first eleven minutes.
For the second match running, the Whites were thwarted by a stand-off whose pin-point accuracy with the boot sent them back into the defensive corners of the pitch. It is a great skill and a deadly one and Turner was able to drill the ball downfield aided by a diagonal wind to ease the pressure on Horden at key moments.
Rovers will look back at passages of play when, with better support for the ball carrier, they might have added to their try count but that should not detract from a never-say-die home defence and one Rovers, themselves, had to display.
Horden’s coach Glenn Bowman was understandably happy.
“This win makes it 12 out of 12 in the second half of the season and the lads deserve great credit for that.
“The players set that target themselves and if they stick together for next season then they have the chance to do the same again. Leadership on the pitch is all-important and Michael Thubron has led by example and his sheer physical presence and he was missed today.
“I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a bonus point to put more pressure on Stockton but I’m happy with what we’ve achieved after the poor start to the campaign.
“The team has stuck at it and, having turned our season around, has been playing well and enjoying our rugby. If we can take that into next season I would hope that we are right up there at the end of it.”
SEE Monday’s Mail for full story, pictures and more rugby reports.