WEST Hartlepool may well have ignited their season with a tremendous 80-minute performance which saw them inflict high-flying Pocklington’s first home defeat.
The Brinkburn side did it with a squad ravaged by injuries and absences, and which saw flanker Jonny Boatman coerced out of retirement to play at inside centre.
The victory was borne out of the dominance of the West pack around the park and by committed tackling.
West head coach Iain Dixon says it was easily the best performance so far.
“We pushed them all over in the scrum,?” he said. “We also didn?’t let our tempo drop at all during the game.
“On the Thursday night after training we only had 13 names on the team sheet, so every credit has to go to the 18 who eventually made it to Pocklington and who did their club proud.
“Special mention has to go to the front five for their dominance, to the likes of Zac Southern and Stu Waites who ran the show and to Peter Youll and Jonny Boatman who put in some big tackles.
“We managed to persuade Jonny to come out of retirement and what is more we managed to persuade him to play in the backs.
“His performance shows what a quality rugby player he still is.”
Dixon was up against former West legend Michael Watson whose side had risen to third place on the back of some impressive performances from a big pack.
Instead, it was the West eight who started off the strongest by dominating the early scrums although they could not exert the same control at the line-out.
It was from a line-out that the home side had the first scoring chance but winger Billy Hardy pulled his penalty from in front of the posts.
West lost hooker Andrew Rollins to the sin-bin for a deliberate offside, though that didn’t deter the visitors from moving upfield and they won a penalty just inside the home half.
With Rollins off the field, Zac Southern opted for a kick at goal and his long-range effort put the visitors ahead.
It was not long before the pressure at scrum-time paid off again with Southern making a break to send Peter Youll away.
His long pass was weighted perfectly for top scorer Sam Miller to power his way in at the corner to give West a deserved 8-0 lead at the break.
The visitors had the slope in the second half but Pocklington came out of the traps determined to get back in the game.
Try as they might, they came up against a resolute West defensive wall and rarely threatened to cross the try line.
West’s injury hoodoo struck again when impressive second row Luke Chapman limped off with Jay Corbett coming on for his first game in six weeks with the West pack continuing to go forward.
Luke Mallinson, also back from a concussion injury, got through with an excellent kick and chase, but was unlucky to be called back for an earlier offence by referee Jack Wolstenholme.
Pocklington were led by prop Mat Webber, whose brother Rob was on England duty at Twickenham, but coach Watson was forced to change his front row in an effort to get his side back in the game.
West were forced to give away several penalties, but Pocklington were not able to take advantage and it was the away side who increased their lead.
A deft kick through from Southern was chased down by Mallinson and the home side were forced to defend desperately on their line.
Both Miller and Corbett were held up and when the ball was spun out Southern went over to set himself up for an easy conversion.
Pocklington came back through lively scrum-half Jack Fletcher and he was only just denied when he was tackled into touch.
However, he did manage to get over after another excellent break down the right-wing. The missed conversion being the last play.
Pocklington: Charlie Allen, Jack Walters, Pete Massie, Matt White, Billy Hardy, Henry Mitchell, Jack Fletcher, Mat Webber, Ben Stephenson, Chris Formon, Tom Peters, James Wilkinson, Joe Brown, Matt Davies, Jack Holbrough (captain).
Sub (all used): Alex Smith, Dave Birch, Archie Fothergill.
West: Stu Waites, Kyle Jamieson, Peter Youll, Jon Boatman, Luke Mallinson, Zac Southern, Ryan Painter, Ian Pinchen, Andrew Rollins, Adam Coates, Joe Rafferty, Luke Chapman, Jordan Baggs, Dan Boatman (captain), Sam Miller.
Subs (all used): Ross Wood, Matt Tyers, Jay Corbett.
Tries: Miller, Southern.