Whitby RUFC produced one of their best displays of the season, but were beaten in controversial circumstances at Hartlepool, on Saturday.
Daryl Grason’s men led the Durham & Northumberland second division’s top team 17-10 heading into the last 15 minutes, before a series of bizaare refereeing decisions saw the game turned on its head.
“‘We were all gutted, we didn’t get what we deserved,” coach Grason told the Whitby Gazette.
“We scored three fantastic tries that even had the partisan crowd applauding, so to come home with only one point was a travesty.
“I don’t know where the decisive penalty try decision came from because we had never been under pressure, and to say I am disappointed is an understatement.”
Playing downhill, Whitby started strongly and made a couple of good try-scoring and were also narrowly off target with a pair of penalty kicks.
Hartlepool hit back when, from a rolling maul close in, they went over to open the scoring with an unconverted try.
The Maroons levelled things up when Connor Clements popped up on the right wing following a crisp move to score in the corner.
Whitby’s young and relatively inexperienced front row of Bruce Reed, Adam Wilson and Nathan Kaz were holding their own in the set-piece, but it was the home side who scored the next try of the game, wide out on the right, to take a 10-5 lead into the interval.
Playing uphill in the second period was always going to be tough for Whitby, but by sticking to their plan to go wide at every opportunity, they were able to stretch the game.
Anthoney Craig, debutant Andy Little and Dan Marsay were working hard to negate Hartlepool’s close driving game, and from a break out of defence, the Maroons took the lead for the first time.
Good hands released veteran Ollie Roberts who hoofed the ball upfield and in the dramatic chase, full-back Stu Gregson proved to be the fastest, hacking on to score under the posts for 12-10.
More was to follow, as five minutes later Whitby scored their best try of the season, to date.
The hosts kicked deep into the visitors’ 22 whereJack Reeves gathered and initiated a counter-attack.
Sam Webster handed on to Roberts who then found Gordon Bland, who switched with brother Dave Bland before the ball found Craig who finished superbly in the corner to make it 17-10.
With 15 minutes left, Whitby seemed poised for the win, but the game was turned on a highly-contentious decision, with the Maroons not looking like surrenderding anything thanks to some superb defence.
After awarding Hartlepool two penalties, then playing an advantage, the referee gave a penalty try to the home side.
His assertion was that a Whitby player had arrived from an offside position to intercept the ball, despite the fact the player had come from behind his own line.
The hosts levelled the scores from the kick and worse was to come as the referee penalised Whitby more in the final five minutes of the match than he had done during the previous 75 minutes.
From one of these penalities, a Hartlepool prop crashed over the line to win the match for his side.
Whitby Co-operative man of the match: Andy Little.
The Maroons will be hoping to bounce back when they host Seaton Carew at the Showfield on Saturday, 2.15pm kick off.