MATCH REPORT – Whitehaven RLFC 12 – 12 Newcastle Thunder

Newcastle Thunder were thankful for a late converted Kieran Gill try on Sunday afternoon as they secured a hard-fought draw against Whitehaven in Betfred League 1

In a low scoring, but thoroughly exciting game, Newcastle proved a stern challenge to the joint league-leaders and took a valuable point for their efforts.

Although it remained scoreless until approaching the half hour, the first half provided an enthralling battle as both sides attempted to find an opening.

Completing sets deep within each other’s half, Whitehaven were making their pressure tell the most, as they forced Thunder into three goal-line dropouts and face four straight periods of attack.

To Newcastle’s credit, their defensive line withstood that pressure and they went close after Lewis Young embarked on one of his standard, marauding runs.

Charging into space, the fullback was hauled down 30m out but a quick play the ball saw Mo Agoro carry further, setting up a good scoring chance that was ultimately left on the table when a cross-field punt was put in rather than a pass down the line.

After working themselves into further good attacking positions but not taking anything for their efforts, Thunder assumed the lead through a Jymel Coleman penalty, as Whitehaven were penalised for a late tackle on Young as he chased down a grubber kick through.

It was a score that saw the game explode into life, as the hosts replied with a try scored through weight of numbers after a surging midfield break and assumed the lead.

Thunder went close twice in the closing minutes of the half but were pulled up for obstruction penalties to ensure the hosts retained the lead into the half time.

Newcastle emerged from the break the strongest with a pair of solid attacking sets close to the Whitehaven line and squared the scores when offered a penalty 20m out, before taking the lead moments later as the hosts were penalised after playing at the ball from an offside position.

After assuming that lead and riding out a period of pressure in their own half, Thunder conceded a soft try after being stripped of the ball in the tackle as they attempted to attack quickly with two home players out of the defensive line.

Having fallen six points behind with less than 10 minutes to play after a penalty against for a high tackle, Thunder threw everything into the closing stages and looked to have scored through Keal Carlile, but the grounding of the ball was deemed to be on the dead-ball line.

With two minutes to go, Whitehaven were in a position that they could have closed the game out from, however, the visitors had other ideas and a big carry from Jared Blanke set them on their way to the decisive score.

Straightening the line, Thunder created an overlap and with clean, precise passes, found Gill in enough space to scythe through to score.

Cutting in behind the goal to make the conversion attempt easier, it proved to be an astute decision from the centre, as Coleman added the extras.

With 90 seconds to go, Newcastle launched one last blistering attack to try and seal the win, but the chase to the early kick was won by Whitehaven and allowed the hosts to run down the remaining time.

Newcastle Thunder 

Lewis Young, Mo Agoro, Tyler Craig, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Jymel Coleman, Remy Marginet, Liam McAvoy, Evan Simons, Jared Blanke, Rhys Clarke, Conor Fitzsimmons, Evan Simons 

Replacements 

Aaron Ollett, Sam Luckley, Alex Rowe, Jack Aldous

Tries – Gill (78)

Goals – Coleman 4/4

Whitehaven RLFC

Chris Taylor, Dave Thompson, Jason Mossop, Jessie Joe Parker, Jordan Burns, Sam Forrester, Jake Carter, Marc Shackley, Sam Dowsett, Kris Coward, Jake Moore, Brett Phillips, Tom Wilkinson, 

Replacements 

Dion Aiye, Connor Holliday, James Newton, Jordan Thomson

Tries – Thompson (32) Burns (59)

Goals – Holliday 2/3

Attendance – 852

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