Hartlepool Rovers’ season is, thankfully, over following a humiliating defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough.
It is hard to believe that the honeymoon period following the convincing 53-19 win over Medicals is already over after the very next fixture.
The stark fact is that it is just as well that the Whites secured their Durham Northumberland One safety that day on home turf because it was not going to happen at Acklam Park.
Middlesbrough are a good team and very strong at home but Rovers should not be leaking 13 tries and 77 points to any of the clubs in their division and Saturday’s loss was their heaviest of the season.
Rovers, after having an almost full-strength line-up against Medicals, had an alarming absentee list for Saturday’s clash and came up well short of an acceptable performance.
Several players looked to try and take the game to the hosts but it needed much, much more than that and in footballing parlance Rovers were ‘on the beach’.
For huge passages of the match, the Tykes looked like scoring at will and on four occasions Middlesbrough scored two tries in two minutes to build on a 12-0 lead established after only four minutes.
Rovers had their moments and, although out-gunned in the set piece, the pack did well in the loose with skipper Ian Pinchen and Anthony Hanley standing out whilst in the backs Matty Stephenson and Taz Pelser tried to drive the team forward.
What Rovers have consistently failed to do this season, however, is to display sufficient passion and pride and to actually play for the entire eight minutes. This league looks set to be just as competitive next season and so these are lessons that Rovers have to learn.
It was all too simple a start for Boro who took advantage of a knock on at the kick-off for captain Peter Homan to run in from the scrum and, after a combination move from their 22, Jack Pierce crossed and Euan Tremlett kicked the first of his six conversions to give his side a 12-0 lead.
After being caught cold, Rovers enjoyed a spell of heavy pressure inside the home 22 but could not cross the line and were made to pay when Ben Wood broke clear.
Namesake Liam chased him down but quick recycling brought a try for the overlapping Conner Foley.
Shaun Kay trundled in from 40 metres on 17 minutes to make it 26-0 before he and Chrissy Harrison were sin-binned after a dust-up.
A penalty after another fracas put the visitors back into the Boro 22 but more pressure on the home line came to nothing and a turnover after 34 minutes saw Ben Wood race home unopposed with there being no full back in place.
33-0 became 40-0 two minutes later when Homan had another easy run to the line.
There was a hectic close to the half when a Patrick O’Callaghan lineout steal saw three penalties in succession give Rovers the chance to camp on the line.
Kay was sent off for a second yellow card and the pressure told when Pinchen barged over, Harrison converting in the sixth minute of added time.
Middlesbrough started the second half with some more sevens-type play and some sure handling brought tries for Calum Marshall and Foley on 45 and 47 minutes for a 52-7 lead.
The Friaragemen looked in danger of fully imploding when a crossfield move put Andy Micklewright in at the left hand corner flag and, three minutes later, Homan completed his hat-trick when he ran in from halfway to make it 62-7.
Rovers had their first real touch of the ball of the half on 56 minutes but the move petered out and brought a try three minutes later for Ben Wood who then got his own hat-trick with another touchdown on 61 minutes.
Billy Lloyd, Matty Lidster, Pelser, Liam Wood and debutant Pip Harrison all then threatened the Middlesbrough line before Pelser received again and created an opening for Stephenson after 65 minutes.
The White Shirts stuck to their task and sub Darren Smith with a show of the ball and a good running line went behind the posts on 70 minutes, Harrison’s extra points cutting the deficit to 72-19.
All of a sudden Rovers looked likely to secure a try-scoring bonus point but the home eight halted a drive and the last chance had gone with Middlesbrough breaking upfield for Tremlett to finish the scoring and bring Rovers’ suffering to an end.
Middlesbrough: Marshall, Moloney, Foley, Homan (c), B Wood, Micklewright, Seymour, Wright, Palmer, Lynas, Pierce, G Lang, Kay, Wilson, Tremlett. Subs used: Colvin, M Lang, Todd
Tries: Homan 1, 36, 54; Wood 34, 59, 61; Foley 15, 47; Pierce 4; Kay 17; Marshall 45; Micklewright 51; Tremlett 72; conversions: Tremlett 4, 15, 17, 34, 36, 47
Penalties awarded 12, kicked 0, missed 0; scrums won 9, 1 against the head; lineouts won 7
Rovers: Rochester, S Flounders, Pelser, Grand, Addison, Harrison, Stephenson, Pinchen (c), Ross, Lloyd, Langley, Ryan, O’Callaghan, L Wood, Hanley. Subs used: Lidster, D Smith, A Smith
Tries: Pinchen 40+6; Stephenson 65; D Smith 70; conversions: Harrison 40+6, 70
Penalties awarded 17, kicked 0, missed 0; scrums won 9, 1 against the head; lineouts won 6
Referee: Andy Hodgson (Yorkshire)
Sent off: Kay 40+4; sin bin: Harrison & Kay 29; Rochester 80+1
Other results; Barnard Castle 34 South Shields Westoe 37; Consett 19 Northern 41; Gateshead 26 Stockton 41; Gosforth 54 Ryton 12; Hartlepool 55 Novocastrians 24; Medicals 38 Horden and Peterlee 22