West Hartlepool made to battle for narrow win

West battle against Driffield
West battle against Driffield

Two tries in the last 15 minutes rescued the points for West in a 22-19 win against Driffield.

But it was a game they could nhave won by a much bigger margin had they taken their scoring opportunities.

West spurned several first half chances.

West spurned several first half chances and only went into the break leading thanks to a try in the dying seconds from Gavin Painter.

Following an earlier missed shot at goal, they should have gone in front with quarter of an hour gone when Aaron Myers broke up-field and set up a great position in the 22.

As the ball was recycled and moved along the line, Carl Robinson bumped off one man but his offload under the posts went forward.

From the resulting scrum, Dan Boatman made a strong tackle and turned the ball back to the West side and with the Driffield defence scrambling, Gavin Painter’s wide pass gave Luke Mallinson an easy path to the line.

Stu Waites had a difficult day from the tee and saw the conversion go well wide.

Straight from the restart Myers was at it again, another good break resulting in attacking field position.

Zac Southern cut a great line to pierce the visiting defence but he was half-tackled 10 metres from the line and his offload was intercepted.

The visitors made a hash of the resulting clearance though and West should have been in again when a perfect cross-field kick from Painter was dropped in the in-goal area by Mallinson.

Driffield took full advantage of the missed chances and, with the half drawing to a close, worked their way into the home 22 and took the lead with a sniping try from scrum-half Rhun Jones. Colin Lucas added the conversion.

Probably wondering quite how they were behind, West rallied and kicked a penalty close to the corner.

The lineout drive was well set but was pulled down before it reached the line. However, the alert Painter brothers were not to be denied and Ryan fed Gavin who dove it at the left corner flag.

The half-time lead didn’t last long into the second period though as with barely a minute gone Alisdair McClarron finished off a flowing move when he beat Mallinson on the outside and cut inside the covering Southern to score under the posts.

Lucas added the simple conversion and the visitors then extended their lead with another good try, this time Gary Stephenson the finisher.

The hosts were on the ropes with 25 minutes to play and having seen those chances missed in the first half it looked an uphill task to get back ahead of a resurgent Driffield side.

However, they showed good composure and slowly wrestled back dominance, thanks particularly to some strong running from Myers.

Fittingly it was the back-rower who crossed for West’s third try from close range after a number of surges from the forwards.

The conversion was again missed so another try was needed with 12 minutes left.

The winning try finally came with just three minutes to play and it was the pack who made it with a powerful rolling maul, finished off by Chris Atkins but sadly injuring Carl Robinson in the process and leaving the prop limping out of his first team return.

Gavin Painter took over from the tee and slotted the conversion for a three-point lead to protect for the closing stages.

Keeping possession well, West didn’t allow Driffield much of an opportunity to retake the lead and when some ferocious defence drove them back into their in-goal area they decided not to risk losing their bonus point and kicked the ball dead to end the game.

Cooach Iain Dixon said: “We made hard work of the win but there’s no doubt we deserved the five points.

“We failed to take our chances when we had Driffield back pedalling in the first half, and credit to them they tackled hard all afternoon and made the best of the few opportunities they had to score.

“Finishing off pressure with points wasn’t a problemn at the beginning of the season, but we have lost that cutting edge, and it’s something we we will have to work on in training as we have some tricky games coming up.”

West: Zac Southern, Scott Butcher, Stu Waites, Peter Youll, Luke Mallinson, Gavin Painter, Ryan Painter, Michael Hogan, Ross Wood, Carl Robinson, Owen Bennett, Chris Atkins, Liam Bailey, Dan Boatman (capt), Aaron Myers.

Changes: Sam Miller, Greg Edwards, Joe Rafferty.

Tries: Mallinson, G Painter, Myers, Atkins

Con: G Painter

YC: Myers

Driffield: Dan Goldsworthy, Alisdair McClarron, Gary Stephenson, Alex Piercy, Olly Newborn, Colin Lucas, Rhun Jones, Henry Waterhouse, Guy Brumfield, Guy Dervey, Jesse Harris, Harrison Dodds, George Mewburn, Rob Mewbur, Henry Forbes

Changes: Felix Nellen, Danny Ord, Olly Cooper

Tries: Jones, McClarron, Stephenson

Cons: Lucas 2