13/14 Wanderers. Hartlepool Rovers 0 - 45 Wanderers

This fixture was played in difficult conditions on a small pitch away from the main club but this Northern team adapted well and with lock Andrew ‘Smiler’ Scott returning from long term injury prominent in the early exchanges, the Northern machine was soon in the groove. Northern kicked for a penalty line out on 10 minutes and from the catch and drive the forwards took the ball on and flanker Dan Coates shot over for the first try. Northern continued to put good phases together but could not quite finish off moves due to both the conditions and some eccentric refereeing. On 17 minutes it all came together when several phases took the ball deep into Hartlepool territory and scrum half Ali Gray exploited a gap and showed good pace to score a try converted by back row Ian Gerrard. Northern moved further ahead when Andrew ‘Smiler’ Scott made a powerful run and blasted over for an excellent try on 22 minutes which was converted by Ian Gerrard. The lock was replaced after this to recover after good first shift. The Northern defence was putting extreme pressure on the Hartlepool players and centre Doug Wilson was able to strip the ball which was recycled quickly by the Northern support and Ali Gray showed the Hartlepool defence a clean pair of heels to touch down on 27 minutes for a try that was again converted by Ian Gerrard. With the bonus point in the bag Northern continued to turn the screw and following some great handling the ball was passed left to full back Anth Baird who scored a try in the corner on 40 minutes to leavethe half time score: Northern Wanderers31–Hartlepool Rovers 0.

The second half started slowly and Rovers put in a determined defensive effort from the whistle, however Northern continued to dominate and again, mainly due to the weather conditions, they just could not finish off several promising forays into the Rovers 22. The Northern scrum was on top as usual but unfortunately on 50 minutes Rovers had to go to uncontested scrums when a second ‘broken’ prop left the field. This made it difficult for Northern as this stopped their front-foot ball and gave Rovers a platform to move the ball to their backs. Northern’s aggressive defence was very good and most Rovers attacks were being stopped before the gain line. The Northern pressure eventually told when following a series of penalties conceded by Rovers a quick tapped penalty was moved to prop and captain Peter Allsop who battered over for a try on 70 minutes that was converted by Ian Gerrard. The Rovers captain asked the referee to blow up early after this (possibly due to the sight of lock Andrew ‘Smiler’ Scott retiring from the game with ripped shorts) so with 5 minutes left to play Northern upped the tempo and pressed for another score. Good interplay involving both backs and forwards set Anth Baird away on a good run with Ali Gray in support on his outside. A try looked on but by deciding to try and hand off the entire Rovers back line the full back was pulled down and stopped. The supporting Northern forwards quickly recycled the ball and the backs spun the ball left with fast hands putting away left wing Connor Chamberlain who out-paced the defence to score a try under the posts on 74 minutes which was converted by Ian Gerrard. The referee blew early to leave the final score Northern Wanderers 45 – Hartlepool Rovers 0.

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