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Seven-up for Hartlepool Rovers against Ryton

Hartlepool Rovers ran in another seven tries in a comprehensive demolition of Ryton at the Friarage on Saturday.

The Whites had the try-scoring bonus point in the bag two minutes into the second half and the 46-0 win lifts Rovers to third place in the Durham Northumberland One table and only a point behind leaders Northern and second-placed Gateshead.

All seven scores came from the backline with a brace each for Alex Rochester and David Grand, who scored his in a two-minute spell just after the hour mark, with tries also for Liam Austwicke, Daz Fawcett and Taz Pelser.

If one wanted to nit-pick after such a performance and winning margin, Rovers probably left 20 or 30 points out on the pitch.

That would be churlish in the extreme, however, and the home players, coaches and fans can all look back on an excellent afternoon’s work and another exciting display from this young and developing side.

The league campaign now takes a breather and Saturday’s free date couldn’t have come at a worse time for Rovers who are in a rich vein of form.

Rovers have traditionally been slow starters but this season they have bucked that trend and are shaping up to be the team to beat.

When the league programme resumes, Rovers will travel to Stockton where their record is not great and where they failed to trouble the scorers last season. Given the Teessiders prop up the rest of the division, it looks like a banker away win but Rovers have slipped up on such banana-skins in the past.

Rovers soon got into their stride and took the lead after only nine minutes, a 20-metre break by Grand leading to a penalty and Austwicke crossed after a mazy run, Fawcett converting and then kicking a 27-metre penalty on 17 minutes for a 10-0 scoreline.

The lead became 15-0 when a jinking Austwicke run saw him offload in the tackle to Rochester who stretched to the line when tackled.

Despite their lead, Rovers were tending to panic in possession but steadied their nerves with a second try after 22 minutes created by a flowing move up the Oakes Stand flank through Grand, Chrissy Harrison and Adam Smith, Fawcett selling a dummy to go over after a burst by Andrew Dring.

Fawcett also added the extra points and Rovers led 22-0.

There was then a lengthy spell of advantage played but referee Ray Sutherland ruled no-try after a pile-up under the posts and then Glen Wise burrowing over.

Right on the interval, Harrison had to pull off a one-on-one tackle to halt a strong run by Adam McGarry.

The Friaragemen got off to a dream start to the second half, Harrison running a great line and sending Rochester home in the Steetley Corner for the bonus-point try, Rovers relied on a turnover to halt a Ryton attempt on their line as their intensity dropped a notch or two before extending their lead to 34-0 on 62 minutes.

Patrick O’Callaghan looked to be in after a combination break by Harrison and Liam Wood but a charge down by the flanker saw the ball bounce kindly for Grand to touchdown under the posts, Fawcett again converting.

Within two minutes, the veteran centre crossed again after Callum Whitehead’s burst was taken on by Austwicke who then put Grand away 30 metres out and his unconverted try made it 39-0.

There was then a flurry of cards as Mr Sutherland clamped down on a dangerous tackle from Robert Smith and punching by McGarry to which Kevin Maguire retaliated.

The White Shirts then made a hash of a break by Pelser, Austwicke and Rochester who wasted a clear overlap chance.

Ryton briefly threatened as the closing minutes ticked away but the home defence held out and a tap and go by Pelser seven minutes into added time and Austwicke’s conversion pushed Rovers to within touching distance of the 50 points barriers.

Coach Carl Robinson, who would be a clear winner of coach of the month if there was such an award in DN1, was, once again, a happy man after the final whistle.

“If I’d been offered seven ties and 46-0 at kick-off then yes, of course, I’d have taken it,” he said.

“The lads have played well once again; we have four wins from six games and only lost the other two matches to penalties with the last kick of those games.

“The free week is a blow and a shame because we want to keep this form and momentum going but it’s something we’ll just have to deal with like all the other teams.

“Watching Dylan (Langley) being carried off is a worry and we’ll have to see how bad the knock is.”

Rovers: Harrison, Rochester, Austwicke, Grand, A Smith, Fawcett, Pelser, Wise, Cushlow, Pinchen (c), Langley, Whitehead, O’Callaghan, Wood, Dring. Subs used: Maguire, Cookland, Jeffrey

Tries: Rochester22, 42; Grand 62, 64; Austwicke 9; Fawcett 28; Pelser 80+7; conversions: Fawcett 9, 28, 62; Austwicke 80+7; penalty: Fawcett 17

Penalties awarded 6, kicked 1, missed 0; scrums won 13, 1 against the head; lineouts won 9

Ryton: Colbeck, S Smith, Brown, McGarry, Brent, A Oxley, R Smith, Aucott, Simpson, Hardy, Parkinson, Howland, M Oxley (c), Davison, Rodenby. Subs used: P Smith, McCoy, Stewart

Penalties awarded 8, kicked 0, missed 0; scrums won 13, 1 against the head; lineouts won 8

Sent off: McGarry 69; sin bin: R Smith 67; Maguire 69

Other results: Consett 38 Gateshead 25; Hartlepool 22 Gosforth 3; Horden and Peterlee 32 Novocastrians 7; Medicals 25 Barnard Castle 28; Middlesbrough 36 Stockton 23; Northern 28 South Shields Westoe 38