It was a trip up the A1 for Stockton this afternoon to Ponteland, where much has happened since our last visit 3 years ago. New pitches, a new Bar and the long term possibility of a new Club House. They are a much improved Club, as shown by their results this season.
Obviously Ponteland weren’t to be underestimated following their win at Grangefield early in the season and a Stockton started well, driving hard up to the home 22 metre line, before a handling error resulted in a scrum to Ponteland. From the scrummage, Stockton scrum half Tom Brown stole the ball from his opposite number, then moved the ball left, for left wing Steve Bartliff to score in the corner. Stephen Jones kicked a superb conversion and Stockton were ahead 7-0 after only two minutes.
Stockton were soon on the scoreboard again as Jones kicked a 35 metre penalty to make the score 10-0, but Pont hit back after twenty minutes when one of their Prop Forwards crashed over for an unconverted try from close in after a period of sustained pressure on the Stockton line. Ponteland 5, Stockton 10.
From the re-start Ponteland made a couple of errors through good Stockton defensive play, before Steve Jones stretched the lead to eight points with another penalty.
Stockton were looking relatively comfortable, but just before half time there was a mix up at the back of a Stockton scrum, resulting in the Pont scrum half picking up a loose ball and strolling under the posts for a simple try that was easily converted, to take the teams into half time with the score Ponteland 12, Stockton 13.
Two minutes into the second half Stephen Jones kicked his third penalty of the afternoon to stretch the lead to four points and only three minutes later hard working second row Steve Taylor fought his way over the try line for a well deserved try, again converted by Jones. Ponteland 12, Stockton 23.
Stockton were now starting to take control of the game, and on 55 minutes Jones added his fourth penalty of the afternoon. Ponteland 12, Stockton 26.
It was the 66th minute before Stockton scored their third try and sealed the game, flanker Dan Kidd crossing for a try from close range following an electrifying break down the right wing by Joe Hargreaves. Jones again converted to take the score to Ponteland 12, Stockton 33.
The visitors were now looking for the bonus point try and it came only two minutes later, when Ponteland lost the ball at the breakdown on the halfway line. The ball was handled quickly to the left where centre Steve Tampin outpaced the defence over 40 metres to score wide out on the left. Jones once again added the conversion. Ponteland 12, Stockton 40.
75 minutes and Stockton were in again, this time skipper Charlie Doherty racing over on the left, with Jones adding the extras, then in the very last second Steve Bartliff crossed for his second try of the afternoon, with a Steve Jones missing his only kick of the afternoon (in the last two matches he has kicked 20 goals from 22 attempts!), to make the final score Ponteland 12, Stockton 52.
Today’s second half was probably the best team display I’ve seen from a Stockton side this season, and their seventh win in a row. At times they were clinical in their attacking plays, with some very aggressive defence. Man of the Match, as chosen by the Ponteland Team and Officials, was Stephen Jones with a personal tally of 22 points. Many thanks to all at Ponteland for their hospitality and best wishes for the rest of the season.
Next week it’s Aspatria, making the long journey from Cumbria, at home. It would be nice to see a good crowd for their first visit in thirty years !