Whitby Maroons came from behind to finally land their first league win of the season at mid-table Hartlepool on Saturday.
The Maroons travelled with confidence after performances in recent weeks had been much improved.
Coach Darryl Grason said: “This was a great result for the team – the lads thoroughly deserved the win.
“It has been a really tough season for everyone involved but our heads have never gone down.
“Our challenge now is to kick on and get some more wins on the board, starting with North Shields tomorrow.”
He said the win was fully deserved and had been on the cards for a number of weeks.
“The effort and desire shown by every player was a credit to the club,” he said.
Mid-table North Shields visit the Showfield tomorrow and a good crowd is expected.
The last fixture of the calendar year is away to bottom club Prudhoe and Stocksfield the week after.
Matt Russell was a welcome return to the Maroons’ front row on Saturday but flanker Andy Grady failed to shake off a strain in time for the game.
The match started with both teams having some good possession and trying to lay foundations in the game.
Hartlepool took the lead after 10 minutes with a quickly-taken penalty after Whitby were penalised for early engagement at the scrum by Whitby.
This frustrated the visitors who went straight on the attack from the concluding kick-off.
It was after good possession and territory by Whitby that Hartlepool conceded a penalty 5m from their tryline. The ball was bravely taken into the opposition’s defence by Russell who was forcibly shoved over the line by his team-mates.
The grounding of the ball led to debate with lock Nick Beaumont laying claims to the try; Russell, however, was not budging, and the points are credited to the veteran prop. Neil Waterfield added the extras to make the scores level.
The next points of the afternoon went to Hartlepool when a neatly-taken penalty was converted by their impressive fly half after Whitby were penalised for not rolling away.
The next quarter saw Whitby on the back foot with some stout defending. Disaster then struck when Russell was shown the yellow card for what was seen as petulance by the referee. This led to flanker Andrew Watson having to be substituted to make way for the front row replacement, Bruce Reed.
The sin bin period was inevitably hard work for the Whitby defence who stood up to the task with great endeavour. Unfortunately, Hartlepool broke through the Whitby line with a converted try to make it 17-7 at the interval.
The half-time team talk was kept positive by coach Darryl Grason, with the players knowing a win was possible. The second half started with the Whitby backs becoming more involved in the game.
Captain Steve Allen was feeding the excellent centres Gordon Bland and Sam Webster with plenty of ball and it was the latter who found a gap in the Hartlepool defence to get his team back in the game when he went crashing over the line in the corner.
Whitby continued to apply the pressure on their hosts with full back Oliver Roberts being instrumental.
Whitby then pulled the scores level when Bland tiptoed his way through the Hartlepool defence to score a fantastic try. The conversion was needed to put Whitby in the lead for the first time and it was down to the trusted left foot of Roberts to secure the extras and give Whitby the lead they deserved.
With still over 20 minutes to play the hard work was far from complete.
The forwards were working tirelessly and the scrum was going the right way with Mahaffy and young winning plenty of ball. The back row of Craig, Newton and Watson were knocking everything down that come at them and putting everything in to secure an important win for Whitby.
A stroke of luck was accepted by Whitby when a good opportunity was missed by the Hartlepool fly half at what seemed to be an easy penalty. The final 10 minutes saw some nervous moments for Whitby with Hartlepool throwing everything they had at the visitors to win the game.
Allen kept on clearing the ball only for it to come straight back at the defence who stepped up on every occasion to halt any attack.
In the closing stages, young Scott Armstrong on the Whitby wing won a foot race to a loose ball and cleared his lines. He seemed to be through with only formalities needed to secure the win; however the Hartlepool full back appeared and obstructed the winger which prompted the referee to award Whitby a free-kick.
With time up it was left to Allen to find touch and secure a massive result for his team.
Man of the match: Oliver Roberts - the veteran full back used all his experience and knowledge to put in his best performance of the season.