Youngster Willis seals West Hartlepool win against Guisborough

West Hartlepool battle against Guisborough
West Hartlepool battle against Guisborough

A try in the opening minute and a second at the very end of the game were enough to secure the winning points for West Hartlepool at a muddy Brinkburn.

In between, the hardy souls in the crowd were treated to a game of muck and bullets where Guisborough thwarted the home side’s attempts to put phases together.

West became more frustrated as the game went on with a penalty count three times worse than that of the visitors, who had several chances themselves to win the game.

In the end it was the youngest player on the pitch who sealed the victory - 17 year old Joe Willis going over at the corner with just a couple of minutes left to play.

West just about deserved the win for their greater enterprise.They went ahead from the kick off when Guisborough let the ball bounce and the onrushing West forwards forced a five metre scrum.

Ryan Painter chose to go on the short side where full back Stu Waites came into the line, and he had the strength to touch down despite the attentions of two defenders.

Any thoughts that the home side were on their way to emulate their 42-0 demolition of the visitors on their Belmangate pitch earlier in the season were quickly dispelled.

Guisborough’s big pack, and strong running backs, fought their way back into the game to level the scores after West failed to clear their lines.

Lively full-back Christian Pollock was less effective with his kicking on the day and his penalty attempt on the quarter hour skidded low and wide.

West had the chance to kick for touch but instead chose to run it from their own line. Guisborough turned the ball over and when the ball went wide winger Alex Russ was in space to go over in the left corner.

The visitors almost went ahead when Eldon Myers lost the ball in midfield and only sharp work by the covering Scott Butcher stopped centre Jack Robinson getting to his kick through first.

West pressured the resulting line-out with Andrew Rollins breaking clear to force his way some 40 metres up the left wing.

That galvanized the home side into action and they should have scored when the backs broke into the home 22. Joe Willis did go over in the right corner, however referee Ieuan Davies spotted that Stu Waites had finger-tipped the ball marginally forward as a lofted pass to the winger went over his head.

West continued to press as the half closed only for a penalty in the visiting 22 to be reversed as both Ryan Painter and Guisborough skipper Michael McDougall were despatched to the sin bin.

West brought on flanker Aaron Myers at half-time in the hope that his experience would steady the ship. Guisborough had other ideas and the game became bogged down between the 22 metre lines.

An increasingly frustrated West began to take chances with a quick throw in from Waites handing the initiative to Guisborough as Butcher knocked the throw on.

Then Aaron Myers took a quick tap 25 metres out when his teammates were expecting an attempt on goal. The result was that an isolated Myers was penalised for holding on and Guisborough once again cleared.

They almost took the lead when winger Phil Shields and centre Jack Robinson broke up the left wing with only full back Waites covering. Fortunately, he put in a superb tackle to send Robinson into touch.

Guisborough’s final attempt to win the game when Pollock sent in a 40 metre penalty which was just under the crossbar.

West broke back and Michael Hogan looked like had scored when he powered his way over but an unsighted Mr Davies ruled he had been held up.

West kept up the pressure and finally got their reward when they sucked in the defence to create a two man overlap. The home side’s afternoon had been marked by a number of dropped balls, but this time the ball was moved steadily left through the hands with Willis in plenty of space to earn a very hard earned victory.

West Head Coach Iain Dixon was relieved to get the points and to get the game out of the way on a day when many games were called off.

“It was very hard out there and Guisborough made it even harder in the way they fought,” he said. “We were too anxious at times but stuck at it with Owen Bennett and Sam Miller tremendous in the forwards and Stu Waites very steady at full back.

“We’ll take the points in the knowledge that we can play a lot better.”

West: Stu Waites, Joe Willis, Eldon Myers, Peter Youll, Scott Butcher Gavin Painter, Ryan Painter, Michael Hogan, Andrew Rollins, Jack Angus, Owen Bennett, Joe Rafferty, Liam Bailey, Dan Boatman (capt), Sam Miller. Reps: Aaron Myers, Greg Edwards, Adam Coates.

Tries: Waites, Willis.

Yellow: R Painter.

Guisborough: Christian Pollock, Alex Ruff, Jack Robinson, Zac McCluskey, Philip Shields, William Muir, Ryan Mitchell, Robert Berriman, Owen Edwards, Peter Hopkins, Gareth Lodge, Michael Henderson, Michael McDougall (capt), Liam Corcoran, Paul Lamb.

Reps: Tony Conway, Kane Watts, Will Kime.

Try: Ruff.

Yellow: McDougall.

Referee: Ieuan Davies, Durham Society.