Rampant Hartlepool Rovers in seventh heaven after win over Whitby

Hartlepool Rovers RFC.
Hartlepool Rovers RFC.

Hartlepool Rovers ran in seven tries to record a victory against Whitby in their first clash at first-team level on Saturday.

The win, coupled with the three teams that had started the afternoon above the Whites all losing, had the hoped-for result of lifting Rovers to seventh place in the Durham Northumberland One table.

West Hartlepool RFC (red/green/white) v Horden & Peterlee RFC (claret/blue) ay Brinkburn, Hartlepool, on Saturday.

West Hartlepool RFC (red/green/white) v Horden & Peterlee RFC (claret/blue) ay Brinkburn, Hartlepool, on Saturday.

With a trip to Barnard Castle and Acklam next up, Rovers have a great chance to hit the top six and then they are within touching distance of the top four which is the target set by player-coach Steve Smith.

A brace by Stephen Railton led the way and with tries also coming from Steven Barnfield, Ian Flounders, Ryan Foreman, Liam Wood and Mark Burnside it was another all-round team effort.

The hosts had a sticky first period but were much, much better after the break.

There was another early try for Rovers with an attacking lineout in Steetley Corner sending Joe Little and Tom Stead away and a well-timed pass from Foreman to Barnfield saw the centre steal in through a gap to score, Foreman converting.

A penalty for dissent on 20 minutes saw Foreman put in a jinking run to set up Flounders who went round his marker for a well-taken try and the lead was 12-0.

Inter-passing by Patrick O’Callaghan and Joe Little deserved a try, but O’Callaghan was hauled down just short and Whitby made Rovers pay by counter-attacking and Stu Gregson was first to a grubber kick from his captain Gordon Bland on 34 minutes.

Whitby were first on the scoreboard after the interval with Gregson’s 17 metre three-pointer cutting Rovers’ lead to 12-8 with four minutes of the second half gone.

Coach Smith’s half time tactical team talk then had the desired effect with the Friaragemen having a purple patch, scoring four tries in an incredible eight minutes.

The first try saw the Stead brothers Neil and Tom burst from a tap penalty with Wood stopped just short. Rovers held their nerve and Barnfield put Foreman in from close range, the stand-off converting his own score.

It was then two tries in three minutes with Foreman receiving from a lineout on the away 22 and although Connor Clements caught his kick ahead he was robbed by Railton to cross in the left hand clubhouse corner.

Matty Stephenson and Alex Rochester then raced away from half way. Rochester just failed to reach the line by inches but Wood was able to finish off the move, Foreman’s conversion making the lead 31-8.

A dropped ball by the Seasiders from the restart was gratefully picked up by Burnside and he streaked away to the line where he dived over in some style. Foreman slotted the front-on conversion.

Undeterred, Whitby hit back and, with Rovers’ defence having just eased off a little, the visitors were rewarded when Jack Braithwaite barged over, Gregson’s conversion making it 38-15.

A break from his own line by Kevin Maguire brought Rovers’ next try. Play was taken on by Burnside and Foreman to inside the Whitby half where Tom Stead popped up to send Railton away to score, Foreman’s touchline conversion putting Rovers 45-15 up.

On time, what ought to have been a yellow-card knock on by Gregson went unseen and the centre had a simple run in to conclude the scoring.

Rovers: Rochester, S Railton, S Barnfield, Burnside, Maguire, Foreman, Stephenson, I Flounders, T Stead, N Stead, O’Callaghan, Charters, Little, Wood, Dring (c). Subs used: Swallow, Armstrong, D Smith

Tries: Railton 51, 74; Barnfield 4; Flounders 20; Foreman 48; Wood 54; Burnside 56; conversions: Foreman 4, 48, 54, 56, 74

Penalties awarded 12, kicked 0, missed 0; scrums won 9; lineouts won 10, 2 stolen

Whitby: Allison, Clements, Gregson, Reeves, Porter, G Bland (c), Hatton, Kaz, Hare, Reed, Lane, Marsay, Craig, D Bland, Braithwaite. Subs used: Wallace, Roberts, Clennan

Tries: Gregson 44, 80; Braithwaite 66; conversion: Gregson 66; penalty: Gregson 44

Penalties awarded 15, kicked 1, missed 0; scrums won 7; lineouts won 10

Referee: Kevin Allison (Durham Society)

Sent off: none; sin bin: D Bland 47, S Barnfield 62

Other results: Gateshead 27 Durham City 32; Medicals 7 Stockton 62; Northern 59 Ponteland 5; Novocastrians 36 Acklam 33; South Shields Westoe 47 Barnard Castle 15; West Hartlepool 38 Horden and Peterlee 10