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Home > News > Seaham 26 - Hartlepool Athletic 14
Your News Seaham 26 - Hartlepool Athletic 14

Seaham returned to league action a week after their fruitless, and toothless, effort at Chester-le-Street. Although they were strengthened by the return of Dan Cahill in the back row and Lee Phillips in the centres, they were left without Steve Sanderson, Scott Anderson and Gary Lynn in the pack. Their visitors arrived with a bare 15 but maintained a determined spirit. Athletic won the toss and chose to play upfield throughout the first half.

Seaham worked the bank to their advantage during the first ten minutes and played the flanks well with Dave Davison calling the shots from fly half. He worked an excellent overlap in the 8th minute and set Grant Dixon loose down the right wing. The fiery youngster looked confident with ball in hand but was hit with a thumping tackle by one of the Athletic centres and was brought to the ground. Unfortunately for the tackler, he came off second best and was forced to leave the field for treatment to a facial injury but returned later to play his part in the game.

Two minutes after the injury Seaham registered the first score of the day. A ruck was formed in the Athletic 22 and the ball was spun right by Henry Brace. Andy Hogwood demonstrated excellent handling and shipped a quick pass to full back Graeme Steel who, in turn, popped a quick ball to Grant Dixon. The youngster then dropped over the line 20 metres in from the touchline for his third try of the season. Dave Davison's conversion took the lead to 7-0.

The restart was taken excellently by hooker Andrew Baxter and was filtered out amongst the backs. Centre pairing Lee Phillips and Stuart Tisseman continued the momentum and crashed through the opposition midfield before offloading to influential skipper John Dixon. The flying policeman then took his opposite number on the outside and ghosted over the line and under the posts for his sixth try of the season. Davison's second conversion of the day stretched the lead to 14-0.

Seaham continued pummelling the Athletic try line but were held at bay by stubborn defence. They continued through numerous phases and recycled the ball well at the breakdown until veteran prop Dave Drinkwater picked up from the base of a ruck and forced his way over the line for his fourth try of the season. Dave Davison couldn't quite make the angle for his conversion attempt so Seaham's lead stayed at 19-0 with 24 minutes gone.

Athletic appeared to rally their troops following the third try and attempted to fight their way back into the game. They used their speedy backs to take play up the right wing but a thumping tackle by John Dixon halted their progress. Unfortunately, the tackle was not deemed legitimate by Cumbrian exchange referee Michale Pate so the visitors were awarded a penalty. Not content with the penalty, one of the visiting players directed some verbals at the referee and the penalty was reversed in Seaham's favour. Further verbals were aimed at Mr Pate and he pinpointed Athletic's flanker and sent him to the sidelines for 10 minutes with 33 minutes gone. This proved to be the last incident worthy of note in the opening half.

Half Time: SEAHAM (19) Hartlepool Athletic (0)

Seaham flanker Steve Meir was replaced by Steve Wilkinson at the break as Seaham looked to re-establish the dominance they'd enjoyed throughout the opening 20 minutes. Athletic restarted with more vigour and once their errant flanker returned they looked rather threatening. Fortunately, the hosts defended their lead resolutely and held them at bay. The game was played in a cut and thrust manner with both packs recycling well and passing wide when the opportunities arose. The game threatened to become fractious in the 54th minute when Stu Barrass flew into a tackle and barged his opposite number out of his path. Fortunately, Mr Pate saw a stern lecture as sufficient punishment for the lumbering lock.

Shortly afterwards, Michael Bland made an excellent excursion up the right flank but the second row's surprising burst of pace caught many of his team mates on the hop and he eventually ran out of support and space. The ball was recycled by Athletic and their promising full back found the safety of touch with an excellent clearance kick. Shortly afterwards Seaham's pack rumbled up the field and caused their counterparts to infringe at a rolling maul. Dave Davison pointed towards the posts in an effort to get the scoreboard ticking over once more but his penalty attempt drifted wide. The hosts made a substitution just before the restart with young Chris Bland replacing thumb injury victim Henry Brace. Grant Dixon replaced Brace at scrum half and young Bland took up position on the right wing.

Athletic registered their first points of the day around the hour mark when they took a quick tap penalty and surged forward. They were held at bay for a number of phases but their centre picked up a loose ball and ghosted through the entire Seaham defence and touched down under the posts. The added conversion reduced the arrears to 19-7 and they were back in the game.

The visitors looked good in attack for the next ten minutes and threatened to reduce the margin to a single score but Seaham managed to stifle their efforts in the 71st minute. Athletic looked to run the ball out of their 22 but they were caught out by Dan Cahill and Andy Baxter. The ball came back on the Seaham side of the ruck and scrum half Grant Dixon fed his big brother John with a neat popped pass. The dynamic skipper then eluded the entire Athletic defence and crossed the line for his second try of the day. Davison's conversion restored Seaham's lead to a flattering 26-7.

Athletic had the last word on the day with both sides tiring rapidly. Once again, poor defensive organisation allowed their fly half a virtual free run over the line for a try. The conversion was slotted with the last play of the match and Mr Pate blew time for a 26-14 Seaham victory.

Full Time: SEAHAM (26) Hartlepool Athletic (14)

Seaham secretary Neil Roseberry remarked that "Overall the performance wasn't too bad but when we went 19 points ahead after 24 minutes I thought we were going to run up a cricket score. We could well have done so had we maintained the discipline and cohesion we'd demonstrated up to that point."

"We tired badly in the second half but fitness is just one of the things we can work on in training. We've just secured a regular floodlit session each Tuesday from 7-8pm at Houghton Kepier. This should help us to maintain the smashing progress we've made so far this season."

"Our positive form so far will have caused a few raised eyebrows in rugby circles this season and we hope to continue getting fitter, faster and stronger. We are always on the lookout for new faces so anyone wishing to help out on the playing or coaching side will always be warmly welcomed."

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