Hartlepool Rovers plumbed new depths with a 48-19 defeat by Guisborough at the Friarage on Saturday.
If the fans had thought the 42-5 hammering at Gosforth last month had been a low point, at least they knew that Gosforth had been made to work for their tries; Saturday’s seven tries for Guisborough were a mixture of Rovers’ mistakes and poor defence.
There was little evidence of the carnage to follow with the Whites having the better of the opening exchanges but a try for the visitors on their first attack after 14 minutes starting a regular trip to the Rovers’ try line.
Guisborough looked rather lethargic early door but the longer the game went on it was Rovers who looked to be treading water; their passing wayward with several interceptions and their defensive work below par.
A red card for Sam Whyman four minutes after the break when the deficit was 19-7 gave Rovers a great chance to fightback but it was Guisborough who actually upped the tempo and they scored four tries whilst a man down and a further try when reduced to 13 men.
It is hard to recall any positives for Rovers and there was also the worrying sight of skipper Callum Whitehead struggling with, and then forced to retire, with a hip injury.
The loss was costly from a league table aspect with Rovers blowing the chance to overtake Guisborough who had come into the match on the back of a 35-0 hammering at Stockton last time out.
Daz Fawcett badly missed a fourth minute 38-metre penalty with Guisborough taking a 7-0 lead from their first attack.
A last-gasp double tackle had kept Rovers’ line intact but quick recycling put James Clark in at the right hand clubhouse corner and he added the touchline conversion for good measure.
Rovers went on the attack on 27 minutes but Fawcett’s through kick for Steven Barnfield was picked off by Mark Ferguson and the winger finished in some style, Clark adding the extra points for a 14-0 lead.
A strike against the head by Danny Cookland on the away 22 allowed Whitehead to break and he passed on to Fawcett who drew Ferguson to put Adam Smith in at the Steetley Corner. Fawcett judged the wind perfectly to convert from the touchline and it was 14-7.
A missed tackle on Clark on 36 minutes allowed him to race clear with Liam Corcoran scoring in the right hand corner.
From three half chances, Guisborough had scored three tries and only some desperate scrambled defence prevented another try on half time.
Whyman was sent off four minutes after the interval for a spear tackle on Chrissy Harrison with Dylan Langley receiving a yellow card for his part in the melee that followed.
The Friaragemen then enjoyed a spell of pressure near the away line but a knock-on allowed Guisborough to clear and increase their lead to 26-7 when Clark cleverly chipped the cover and the ball bounced kindly for Jack Robinson to score, Clark again converting.
The Tykes were then queueing up to score as they stretched Rovers and Rob Leggott touched down in the Railway Corner after 57 minutes, Clark, again, converting from the left touchline.
Rovers were looking increasingly ragged and bereft of ideas but Barnfield and Taz Pelser released Steven Railton on half way and the sub had the strength to shrug off a tackle and cut inside to score, cutting the deficit to 33-12.
Railton’s five-pointer after 63 minutes was cancelled out six minutes later when the over-lapping Phil Shields crossed in the Railway Corner for a 38-12 lead and, after Oli Muir was sin-binned, they were still able to score when some shambolic defence gave Corcoran his second try, Clark’s conversion
making it 45-12.
The White Shirts were awarded a penalty try on 78 minutes with Guisborough constantly infringing as Rovers mauled to the line.
Another try would give Rovers a bonus point but Clark was smart enough to prevent any chance of this by going for goal and he made a 38-metre kick look all too easy for a final score of 48-19.
Player-coach Steve Smith could not hide his disappointment and anger after the final whistle, saying: “We switched off after their first try and were too lazy by far and throughout the team. It was a shambles - you can’t say any more than that; it’s so annoying.
“Training numbers this week haven’t been good enough; you can’t slacken off in this division and we need to work harder this week ahead of Gateshead next Saturday.”
Rovers: Pelser, A Smith, S Barnfield, Gunn, C Harrison, Fawcett, Stephenson, Pinchen, Cookland, Lloyd, Langley, Little, Maguire, Wood, Whitehead (c). Subs used: M Railton, S Railton, Burnside
Tries: Smith; S Railton 63; penalty try 78; conversions: Fawcett 30; penalty try 78
Penalties awarded 13, kicked 0, missed 0; scrums won 11, 1 against the head; lineouts won 11
Guisborough: Shields, Suthers, Robinson, Clark, Ferguson, Whyman. Conway, Berriman, Taggart, Hodgson, Henderson, Cahill, Corcoran, Muir, Leggott (c). Subs used: Fincken-Hayes, Towers, Ruff
Tries: Corcoran 36, 73; Clark 14; Ferguson 27; Robinson 51; Leggott 57; Shields 69; conversions: Clark 14, 27, 51, 57, 73; penalty: Clark 80
Penalties awarded 4, kicked 1, missed 0; scrums won 5; lineouts won 5
Referee: Andrew Scott (Durham)
Sent off: Whyman 44; sin bin: Langley 44, Muir 72
Other results: Barnard Castle 69 Redcar 5; Durham City 66 Medicals 35; Gosforth 5 Stockton 26; Horden and Peterlee 25 Ponteland 6; Novocastrians 19 Consett 31; South Shields Westoe P Gateshead P.