ANOTHER GAME OF TWO HALVES.
Selection was much changed from last week and even mores so when Tom McGowan cried off. So five changes in the forwards with none of the more experienced forwards available for one reason or another. So Matty Etherington came from the bench into the second row with Matt T becoming the third sub.
Treated to a pre match pint by the Hartlepool aliks and off to the pitch with the tallest goalposts in the area if not the world! It was windy, cold & wet. Hartlepool took the game to the Gateshead half and to be quite honest apart from the odd foray into their half that’s where it stayed.
Hartlepool had a big bunch of forwards and for the first time this season our scrum was under a bit of pressure and the ref gave three penalties for standing up. Last week the Guisborough front stood just about every scrum and we didn’t get one penalty but hey ho that’s rugby!
We did have a couple of drives with Cameron Nyambega and Matty Ethertington to the fore but we tended to spill the ball or get caught in possession and they cleared their lines. We tried some tactical kicking but wherever it was kicked their scrum half, who was probably the best player on the park managed to be under it and either clear or counter attack.
Our tackling was generally good with Luke Hawkins and Rees Dale putting a lot of graft in but pressure will tell and they got a couple of tries to make it 0-14. Matty Etherington’s lack of game time was showing so Adam Hill came on at prop with Michael Hastie going to the back row and Tom Race into the boiler room.
Our scrum improved immediately and we out them under pressure and they stood up but the ref didn’t see it that way!
We tried to get our game onto the front foot but were unable to do so and they scored again. Half time 0-17.
Second half they scored after 2 minutes and that made it 0-22. To be honest I was fearing the worst as we never looked like scoring and they were on the up.
However the lads proved me wrong and got into the game and they started feeling the pressure and their big forwards were tiring very quickly. Stephen Anderson came on for Nathan Turner in the centre. Nathan spent the next few minutes getting some tactical advice from David Tate before going back on for Harvey Lyons. Matty Etherington also came back on for Finlay Reah who had put in some hard graft.
Stephen Anderson got the ball just outside our 22 and made a great break showing real pace and jinking passed a few players. Looked promising!
Continued pressure saw us in their 22 and looking good when we kicked a grubber. The Gateshead mob on the touch line all shouted at the stupidity of the kick as Kellen Reah chased it over the goal line and got the touch down to which the Gateshead mob all shouted ‘what a great kick!’ 5-22.
We continued to attack and had a 2 on 1 on the left. Their player knocked it on. Now I am not sure whether it was a deliberate knock on or it was in the tackle. Our TJ, DT was much closer than me and he said it was a deliberate knock on. Now the ref thought the same as he gave a penalty.
Now I always understood that a deliberate knock on was a yellow card and if it meant a try wasn’t scored then a penalty try. What do I know??
We continued to have a go and Hartlepool did a good job of stopping our flow with a good number of injuries. One where their lad a serious hamstring injury only for 10 minutes later chased one of lads for 30 yards!
We then had a super break out with Stephen Anderson and Nathan Turner combining to set Kellen Reah away who jinked into space and was heading for the line. Then their pesky scrum half chased back and got a tap tackle to stop him short.
We battered their line for the next 10 minutes or so but could not get the score we deserved. So final score 5-22. They deserved their win no doubt but we should have had at least another two scores.
MOM was Stephen Anderson who showed great promise for such a young lad. He is not sure where he wants to play, backs or back row. For the moment I would say backs!
I did say before that we had lack of experience but what we did have was enthusiasm and great effort. Cameron Nyambega again had some great trundles as did Michael Hastie and Adam Hill. The young flankers of Luke Hawkins and Rees Dale put in a load of graft with both tackles and drives. Tom Race needs some match play but did well too.
Matty Etherington who has been unable to play for the past couple of years has now changed jobs and will be available. When he gets match fit he will be a great asset to the team.
In the backs we looked dangerous at times and yes we are asking players to play out of position in the centres but when they get used to playing together will be a threat to any team.
So disappointing in the result but bearing in mind the changes we did well. These young lads are our future and we must help and support them wherever we can.
Hartlepool Rovers in the cup away next week. A few of the regular aliks aren’t available next week so your support would be appreciated.