West Hartlepool knocked off top spot after away draw

Hartlepool in action in their defeat at home to Gateshead on Saturday
Hartlepool in action in their defeat at home to Gateshead on Saturday

For the first time this season, West have been knocked off the top spot in North One East.

The Brinkburn side are now two points behind Pocklington but can take great heart from their battling 12-12 draw at fellow promotion challengers Bradford and Bingley.

The Wagon Lane side started the day 10 points behind West, and knowing that failure to win would virtually end their own promotion hopes.

Eighty minutes later, the status quo remained with West happy with their two points, and the knowledge that they’d scored the game’s only tries and with a much-changed side.

They also had to play 30 minutes of the game with only 14 men thanks to yellow cards, so head coach Iain Dixon was especially relieved.

“Our defence was tremendous,” he said.

“The lads who came in put in a real shift and they were very disappointed when Bradford came back to level the scores with a late penalty.

“Things are getting tight at the top with some very good sides finding form. Bradford were one of them so I think a lot of people expected us to get turned over.

“All three of our closest rivals still have to come to Brinkburn so its shaping up for an exciting couple of months.”

The Bees had gone into an early lead thanks to two penalties rom South African fly-half Gerhard Nortier – the second after West scrum half Ryan Painter had been sent to the sin bin for backchat.

He was followed 10 minutes later by back row Car Miller for a similar offence. The Bees took the opportunity to apply pressure only to come up against a resolute West defence, which kept the score to 6-0 at the break.

And it was their turn to attack after the restart with the West pack taking the game to the powerful home forwards.

They got their reward on 47 minutes when Ryan Painter finished off after a catch and drive in the corner.

Brother Gavin hit the post with his long range conversion, but he was to have better luck on 55 minutes when the catch and rive again provided dividends for the visitors.

This time it was No. 8 Sam Miller when went over with the conversion giving West a useful six-point lead.

In between, Adam Coates had been judged to have been held up over the line after Lee Maddison had chased down a punt from Gavin Painter.

Nortier pegged the lead back to three points with a penalty after 61 minutes before West suffered their third yellow of the afternoon - replacement Joe Rafferty off to the bin together with Bees’ second row Brett Mitchell.

The Bees pressed hard for a winner but had to be content with another penalty for a high tackle and with just three minutes on the clock Nortier levelled the scores.

Bradford & Bingley: Nick Gore, Adam Sutcliffe, S.W. Oosthuizen, Ben Greaves, Adam Mitchell, Gerhard Nortier, Lee Neha, Michael Crotch, Masui Akauola, Ryan Wederell, Brett Mitchell, Tom Booth (captain), Max Mountain, Rom Cummins.

Reps (all used) , Mat Cochrane, Mani Riaz, Dom Copsey.

Pens: Nortier (4).

Yellow: B Mitchell

West: Zac Southern, Will Hilditch, Peter Youll, Greg Edwards, Joe Willis, Gavin Painter, Ryan Painter, Adam Coates, Andrew Rollins, Ross Wood, John Bunter, Dan Boatman (captain), Carl Miller, Lee Maddison, Sam Miller.

Reps (all used) : Joe Rafferty, Matt Siddle, Anth Carr.

Tries: R Painter, S Miller. Cons: G Painter.

Yellow: R Painter, C Miller, Rafferty.