HARTLEPOOL Rovers have missed out on the Durham Intermediate Cup for the third year in a row.
After back-to-back final defeats to Consett in 2013 and 14, Rovers had hoped to make it third time lucky on their own soil at the Friarage.
But Durham City took home the silverware with a three tries to one victory at West View Road.
There was confusion before the showpiece even got started when there was a dispute over the start time.
Rovers thought it was a 6.30pm kick-off, the referee and his linesmen were instructed to get the final going at 7pm and Durham City were under the impression it was 7.30pm and did not arrive at the ground until after 6pm.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, the match thankfully ended before darkness set in and with City as deserved winners.
Rovers, playing into the wind in the first half, trailed throughout.
They fell behind in the 13th minute to a Paul Armstrong penalty and it could have been worse but for two pieces of outstanding defence.
Steve Barnfield put in a tremendous tackle on Chris Metcalfe when the winger seemed through in the 15th minute and seven minutes later, Dylan Langley rescued his side when Durham were favourites to score down the left.
But a try seemed inevitable and it came in the 24th minute.
City kicked a penalty award into the home 22, where they collected the line-out ball. All eight forwards, aided by two backs, put in a huge drive for hooker Kenny Reader to get the touchdown.
Had Rovers got to half-time with just an 8-0 deficit, there would have been little to be alarmed about.
But they finished the half with 13 players after sin-bins for Michael Barnfield and Lee Maddison.
City took full advantage of the gaps in defence in the last minute for Metcalfe to go through and score, crucially running close to the posts to make the conversion easier for Armstrong.
Rovers had a chance to get points on the board at the start of the second half when they still had 13 men.
But Chris Sainty’s 38-metre penalty fell short at the clubhouse end.
They had another penalty opportunity from closer in just after the hour but chose to run it instead of either put points on the board or go for a line-out.
The hosts spilled the ball and the chance was lost.
City effectively sealed the win six minutes from time in virtually their first – and only – visit to the home 22.
They kept the ball effectively and stayed patient and waited for the gap which duly arrived with centre Bradley Pears going over down the left.
Rovers kept fighting and sub James Evens crashed over from eight metres in the 77th minute with Sainty converting.
But it proved only a consolation score with Durham clinching the county silverware.