HARTLEPOOL may have left Lovaine Avenue with two bonus points on Saturday, but having led 19-0 at one stage they will regret missed chances as Rockcliff secured a long awaited win and a bonus point to boot.
Pool started strongly and were ahead after three minutes when captain Andrew Small hit Karl Hansen in the line and the Pool forwards drove him on and number eight Jason Norman powered over to give Pool the lead. 5-0. Kegen Thomas failed narrowly to secure the extra two points.
With the visitors dominating the opening exchanges, in came as no real surprise that the pressure was turned into points, centre Brian Foreman made a typical break and Jason Norman was in support to touch down under the post. Thomas converted to give Pool a 12-0 lead.
Pool made it three tries in 15 minutes, when stand off Adam Ainley made an excellent break from deep and Jason Norman again finished off a great move to score a hat-trick within 15 minutes. Thomas converted Pool 19-0.
Rockcliff battled back and a combination of good play by the Rockcliff and Hartlepool taking the foot off the pedal, led to a try for winger Steven Scott after 22 minute for 19-5.
The try lifted the home side spirits and in a purple patch, following a tapped penalty Simon Cormack finished off a good move to score under the posts.
With the try converted by skipper Andrew Webster for 19-12, Rockcliff were back in the game at the 30 minute stage of the game.
Five minutes before the interval, a missed tackle by the Hartlepool defence led to Joam Anderson breaking free to score in the corner for 19-17.
Then on the stroke of half-time the red and golds completed a fine come back with number eight Jonny Birkett powering over from close range following a scrum on Hartlepool’s line for 24-19 at the break.
The second half was a tighter affair, but with Hartlepool down to 14 players with Dave White in the sin bin, Rockcliff took advantage and Richard Berne scored out wide for 29-19.
With Hartlepool back to the full complement of players, Andy Small touched down following a driving maul and Kegen Thomas added the conversion to bring Pool within three points of the hosts.
With five minutes remaining, Pool thought they had won the game, Adam Ainley made an intelligent break and drew the last defender and passed to Martyn Ryan who scored under the post but the referee ruled the pass forward to the disbelief of the Pool players and spectators.
Rockliffe held out for the last few minutes to finish a victors with the score 29-26.