RUGBY PREVIEW: DArlington v Hartlepool Rovers


HARTLEPOOL Rovers keep faith with the side which threw away the points against Durham City last week as coaches Graham Puckrin and Carl Robinson give the players the opportunity to bounce back at Darlington tomorrow (kick-off 2.15pm).

After the excellent win at Gateshead, Rovers took a step backwards when they let a 17-7 lead slip to lose 26-22 to City.

It dropped the Friaragemen two places to sixth in Durham Northumberland One ahead of tomorrow’s difficult journey to Blackwell Meadows.

While Darlington’s away form is dreadful, their record on their own territory is excellent, five wins out of five during which time they’ve averaged almost 40 points.

But the Rovers coaches want to see the players rise to the challenge instead of going into their shells.

“Last week was very frustrating,” Puckrin told SportMail. “After a scoreless first half, we got our noses in front and we rereally should have closed it out.

“It was very frustrating, we had a couple of tries disallowed but I’m not going to complain because we gifted them a couple of their scores with missed tackles.

“We pressed the self destruct button really.

“Tomorrow’s a hard game, as they always are in this league, but it’s a chance for us to put in a performance.

“Gateshead is a hard place to go but we turned them over so I want to see us go to Darlington and look to do the same.”

Puckrin wants to see more leaders on the park and more vocals.

He lamented the period of the game when Kevin Maguire and Callum Whitehead were off the pitch.

“They are the players who get the team going forward,” said Puckrin. “We need more who will take the game to the opposition and we must not panic.

“We have shown that we can play good rugby this season and that is what made the City game so disappointing. We’d done enough to win but could not keep them under the thumb.”

Rovers: L Austwicke, D Grand, J Gunn, I Coulson (capt), A Smith, D Fawcett, S Barnfield, A Flounders, K Maguire, M Tucker, A Pinchen, D Baxter, C Whitehead, L Maddison, M Wilson. Subs: J Evens, B Little, T Church.