Day of frustration for both Seaham and Hartlepool rugby clubs

Seaham Harbour (red) v Hartlepool Athletic at Seaham Leisure Centre on Saturday.
Seaham Harbour (red) v Hartlepool Athletic at Seaham Leisure Centre on Saturday.
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SEAHAM gave their visitors from further down the coast a tough battle, but just couldn’t convert their chances, having to settle for a frustrating 10-all draw.

Hartlepool Athletic travelled northwards expecting a tough encounter and got good value for their money.

The hosts were able to field a much stronger side then the one that had gone down 38-8 in the previous encounter between the sides, back in mid-November.

Athletic’s heavy pack provided a solid platform in the opening stages and a clever drop goal from their scrum half enabled them to take a 3-0 lead after a scrum on the edge of the Seaham 22.

The visitors stretched their lead with a converted try after 21 minutes when their big second row took a pass on the charge and burrowed over for a converted try.

Being 10 points adrift seemed to shake Seaham out of their daze.

Straight from the restart, pack leader Stu Barrass led his forwards well and was ably backed by the evergreen flanker Steve Meir, who appeared to cover every blade of grass.

Scrum half Brad Green’s sniping around the set pieces also ensured the opposition had their hands full.

Unfortunately for Seaham, promising threequarters Paul Atkinson and Jonny Gale were forced off the field with leg injuries, but the inclusion of Jack McCallum and Graeme Steel ensured their shape was retained.

Seaham’s pressure paid off in the 36th minute following a sustained spell of pressure deep in the visitor’s half.

The home pack battered away at the visitors’ line, but stern defence kept them at bay.

Eventually, they were forced into transgressing and conceded a penalty.

Fly half Dave Davison took a quick tap penalty and the ball was fed to Brad Green, who burrowed in for a try.

Davison’s conversion reduced the arrears to 10-7 at half-time.

Seaham’s forwards, boosted by the inclusion of Drinkwater, Cahill and Scott in the front row, dominated the vast majority of the second half.

But in spite of their dominance, the second half proved a very frustrating affair for Seaham.

A series of poor decisions, forward passes and handling errors stifled their momentum and the atrocious pitch conditions made safe handling extremely difficult.

The hosts found themselves camped deep in the Athletic half and their pressure appeared to have paid off when Grant Dixon found himself on the end of a scoring pass and dove over in the bottom left corner.

However, referee Ray Coulthard said he received a forward pass.

Seaham’s continued pressure saw them hammer away at their visitors’ line, but squandered obvious scoring opportunities by running the ball when a kick at goal seemed more straightforward and rewarding.

They eventually opted to kick for goal in the 74th minute when the visitors strayed offside in front of their posts.

Fly half Dave Davison maintained his composure and coolly slotted the ball through the posts to tie the scores at 10-10.

Athletic will have been satisfied with their two league points, whereas the hosts were left to ponder what might have happened had they took the many scoring opportunities handed to them.