Solid display gets Seaham off to a winning start

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SEAHAM started life in Durham Northumberland Two with a fine 20-14 win against old rivals Hartlepool.

Seaham took a deserved lead in the fourth minute. Second row partners and brothers, Michael and Chris Bland carried the ball into the opposition defence and created gaps then centre Mark Wilson followed up and took a popped pass before crashing over from five metres for his first try of the season. Dye’s conversion made it 7-0.

The game turned fractious in the 18th minute when Seaham hooker Kurt Miller was punched. He retaliated and a bout of fisticuffs ensued with both packs of forwards trading blows. Flanker James Ramshaw was given a red card and Kurt Miller a yellow, while Hartlepool escaped any punishment.

With a two-man advantage for the next 10 minutes, Hartlepool would have been expected to capitalise and run amok, but Seaham dug their heels in and defended stubbornly. They even counter-attacked and played much of the 10 minutes in their visitors’ half.

Seaham’s ascendancy was confirmed on 38 minutes when, following a fine flowing move, they battered their way into Pool’s 22. Grant Dixon received a short pass five metres out and was driven over the line by his big brother John for his third try of the season.

Seaham had a good opportunity to stretch their lead on 44 minutes when one of the visitors’ props caught Jon Dye with a high tackle. Andy Hogwood kicked for goal but his attempt drifted wide. Fortunately, winger Dean Armstrong had chased up the kick and won possession. The ball was spun back infield and Hogwood battered into the opposition before losing possession.

Having spotted an offside, the refree awarded Seaham a penalty. Dye made no mistake for a 15-0 lead.

Strong Hartlepool pressure eventually paid off when their centre crossed Seaham’s line. With the conversion added, Hartlepool looked very much in the game.

Within five minutes, the visitors doubled their tally after their second row took a clean catch at a lineout on the edge of the Seaham 22 and started a rolling maul. Although the hosts did their best to disrupt the momentum, the visitors varied their drive and crossed for a second converted try to get within a point at 15-14.

Seaham responded well by taking play deep inside Hartlepool’s half. Chris Bland fed Andy Hogwood and he punched a huge hole in the defence before offloading to Michael Bland. The ball was then shipped right for Dean Armstrong to touch down in the right hand corner for his second try of the season with 67 minutes on the clock. Jon Dye’s conversion missed, but Seaham were 20-14 in front.

Dye had an opportunity to put his side nine points ahead in the 78th minute after prop Jonny Martin had been tackled around the neck but managed to drift his attempt wide and the game remained on a knife edge.

Hartlepool lost one of their centres around this stage when he foolishly vented his frustrations at the referee and received a yellow card for his verbal abuse. Although Hartlepool tried to break out of their 22, Seaham maintained a firm footing and ran the clock down for a well-deserved victory.