West Hartlepool Rugby Union club gain revenge over Old Brodleians


REVENGE, it is said, is a dish best served cold.

But while Brinkburn was a bit on the chilly side, West certainly turned up the heat on title rivals Percy Park with a six-try mauling of Old Brodleians.



Not only did the bonus-point victory keep West on the coattails of North One East leaders Park, it avenged the side’s first defeat of the season.

West looked determined with a capital D and that was clearly reflected in their performance.

Kevan Oliphant, Tim Sawyer and Stuart Hardy’s side had waited 14 weeks to put things right from their agonising 7-5 defeat at Halifax back in October.

That day a bit of magic from Brods stand-off Jack Moon and a nerveless conversion from their second row-playing marksman Olly Akroyd snatched a famous win for the Yorkshire club.

But Old Brods never threatened a repeat showing on their first visit to Catcote Road.

Aside from an Akroyd penalty on 45 minutes which hit the woodwork and a little flurry two minutes from time when good defensive work by Andrew Cheslin kept the home line intact, the Tykes rarely posed any danger.

To be fair to Brods, they started with only seven survivors from their October and they were not helped by losing both their second rows with injuries.

However, that will be of no concern to West who won their fifth league game on the trot with tries by Andrew Cheslin, Liam Bailey and Luke Watson before being rounded off by a 14-minute hat-trick by supersub Stephen Stockdale.

“We’re happy,” said Oliphant. “We scored six tries and we even got a couple of conversions!

“It was good to get the game on and the surface was pretty good and it allowed us to play the game we wanted to play.

“The first try showed that. I thought it was outstanding, we must have gone through eight or nine phases before Andrew Cheslin finished it off.

“That’s the way we want to play and that has given us a big confidence boost for the rest of the season.

“After a long lay-off and a couple of scrappy wins [against Rovers and Northern] we proved against Old Brods how we can play and how we should be top of this league.

“The lads deserved Saturday’s win – we overcome a resilient side, they never get badly beaten.

“The way we played they never looked like scoring, except from perhaps an interception, when we’ve tried to force the game.

“We’ve scored six tries and you can’t ask for any more.”

And the first of the highlighted the sort of rugby they can produce.

Gareth Foreman’s positive run got them going forward down the left in the eighth minute. The ball was moved to the right wing and while Brods held out, West kept possession and kept it in hand.

They switched play to the left, where Darren Thomas – in at full-back for the injured Stuart Waites – found Andrew Cheslin 20 metres out. The winger still had plenty to do but he beat three Brods defenders with skill and determination to go over in the left corner.

The visitors offered little threat at the other end though they could count themselves unlucky on 15 minutes when referee Paul Candlish halted play when Louie Butler was streaking up the right wing. The Durham official blew his whistle to award a penalty rather than play advantage.

If Mr Candlish made a bit of a horlicks of that decision then all his years of experience were needed at the next major incident.

Old Brods were attacking just outside the West 22 with the home defence holding firm, Anth Carr making one particular bone-shuddering tackle.

Moments later though, play was interrupted by a mass brawl as Jonny Boatman and Jamie McLaughlin traded blows.

It was a cue, unfortunately, for everyone to join in and some players took advantage of a free-for-all to run some distance to get in a cheap shot or three.

Indeed, there were more punches thrown than in the David Haye v Audley Harrison world heavyweight title fight and it was certainly cheaper to watch than that PPV “event”.

All joking aside, when the players put down their fists, referee Candlish issued warnings to both skippers and there was a break for a cool-off period.

Several players were lucky to stay on the field but no cards were produced and Mr Candlish’s handling of the incident seemed vindicated by the fact the rest of the contest was played out with no further violence.

The bout of fisticuffs seemed to spur on West and they added a second try just before the interval.

Brods were boxed in their own 22 and when an attempted clearance kick was charged down, there was Liam Bailey – surely one of the players of the season – on hand to score in the Cheslin corner.

The match-clinching third try on 56 minutes had an element of luck but was finished in some style. Brodleians tried to open up from their own half and full-back Moon made a good run into the line. But when West’s defence stopped them in their tracks on halfway, Luke Watson –m a pre-match replacement for Colin Cheslin – seized the loose ball and ran 45 metres unhindered up the left touchline for an unconverted try.

Watson may lack the pace of Cheslin – not that he was a slouch in running clear for the try – but he is forming a very effective midfield pairing with Gavin Robinson, who is enjoying his best run in the side.

A fourth “try” followed four minutes later when Jonny Boatman ran under the posts from Gareth Foreman’s well-timed pass, only for Mr Candlish to rule it as forward.

West though were not finished and it was soon time for the Stockdale show.

A morning shift at work had delayed the burly number eight’s arrival, signalling a return to action for Adam Howard, who produced a barnstorming performance at number eight.

But Stockdale made up for lost time with three tries all in the same vicinity down the right-hand side at the clubhouse end.

His first in the 67th minute was one for forward aficionados as Brods felt the power of West’s tight five of Carr, Bailey, Adam Coates, Ben Lloyd and Andrew Davies, Stockdale finishing off West’s five-metre scrum pushover.

Stockdale forced his way over for his second six minutes later after good pack pressure and repeated the feat at the death for a rapid hat-trick.

Fellow sub Paul Moss landed the last two conversions with superb kicks from wide on the right to complete the revenge mission.

The only downside for West was an injury to ever-present Andrew Foreman, who was force off on 55 minutes with a dead leg.

The 30-year-old has made a significant impact since his summer transfer from Rovers and Oliphant says they are keen to get him on the field at Crossleyans on Saturday.

If Andrew does not make it, West have options at half-back – brother Gareth could play at scrum-half with Paul Moss at stand-off, a combination which played the final quarter of the win over Brods.

Or if West want to keep Gareth Foreman at number 10, there could be a return at nine for old stager David Tighe, who has been in excellent form for the Stags in the CaNDY League.

W.est: Thomas, Larkin, Watson, G Robinson, A Cheslin, G Foreman, A Foreman (Moss 55), Carr, Bailey, Coates (Miller 71), Davies, Lloyd, D Boatman, J Boatman, Howard (Stockdale 55).

Tries: A Cheslin 8, Bailey 39, Watson 56, Stockdale 67. 73, 80

Cons: Moss 73, 80

Penalties awarded: 8, kicked 0, missed 0; line-outs won 8, scrums won 15

Old Brodleians: Moon (Standeven 69), Butler, Holbrough, Hotham, M Hoyle, Scott, Armitage, McLaughlin, Jennings, Thompson, Hanson (Skinner 38), Millward (Brocklehurst 41), Shaw, B Hoyle, Akroyd.

Penalties awarded: 7, kicked 0, missed 1; line-outs won 8, scrums won 10

Referee: Paul Candlish (Durham)

Sinbin: None

Other results: Carlisle P Rovers P; Cleckheaton P Morpeth P; Driffield 24 Durham City 26; Pontefract 20 Percy Park 24; Team Northumbria 28 Old Crossleyans 23; Wheatley Hills P Northern P.