Peterlee Pumas travelled to Wigan, a town just over twice the size of Peterlee with a population but able to boast a superleague club in the Famous Wigan Warriors, a premiership soccer club, several NCL (Tier 3) clubs in various divisions and a host of other Rugby League clubs in the Tier 4 levels. 17 players unavailable through work, Easter holidays and a growing injury list the Pumas bus still made the long journey to this hotbed of Rugby League with a bus full of players and supporters. Several new players drafted in during the week and given debuts for the club never mind the NCL the Pumas came across the most physical side they have encountered in the division yet.
A frustrating afternoon as it appeared a lot of the good work done in previous weeks came undone but so many changes to the team was only ever going to be a problem especially travelling to a place like Wigan St Cuthberts whose ground backs on to the Wigan Warriors academy facility. However positives are the scores both home and away are coming down each week as the team improves, more players joining the club from Rugby League, Union and football backgrounds as well as general keep fit enthusiasts too be part of the quality competition as 8 new players signed in the week leading up to the game and more to sign next week.
With regards to the game, Peterlee fielded a strong pack that had been working hard in recent weeks in securing the middle of the park and held their own forcing the home side wide but some massive centres and wingers with pace were running excellent angles and Peterlee used a lot of energy scrambling in defence. The first half saw the Pumas force Wigan into many errors when it seemed certain they would score but spent a lot of energy in attack. Possession which was hard to come by was too often squandered too early in the tackle count and again, this is something had improved massively over the first month of the season and has to be put down to the lack of consistent selection. Good personal analysis from each and every player putting their hands up to this one. The coaches will have a lot more players to select from as more will be back from injury etc., however a tough trip to Coventry who are using this season in the National Conference to be move into the professional ranks next season.
The building work with the Pumas Junior section also continues to grow, the under 12’s travelled to Durham Tigers in Shildon and were able to dominate the Durham Derby winning 58 16.
Also a huge well done to the Pumas under 14s who beat Durham demons 38-26, the Pumas junior section continues to grow and with the players and coaches coming to the end of the proof of concept period for the Embed the Pathway Project with assessments taking part next week for the Participants, the way ahead for these juniors who will be in line for selection in the NCL and higher levels in only the next few years is seeing the Pumas junior section grow week on week.
Finally, one of the Pumas littlies, 7 year old Thomas Hart travelled to Featherstone this week to take part in their East Training Camp, Thomas was awarded most improved player by the Featherstone Rovers staff and will be going back down to get it presented at Half Time when they host v Halifax in a couple of weeks. Excellent exposure to professional Rugby League environment at an early age whilst strongly maintaining their roles in the local clubs can only see winners everywhere.
Peterlee Hosted Heworth at Helford Road, a lot of hard work over the last two weeks since the last game away to Kells appeared to be paying off for the first hour of a bruising encounter.
Heworth were the first to defend as Peterlee had some good ball close to the visitor’s line but just couldn’t convert. Line speed, lines of attack were all improved on greatly over previous weeks and the Pumas central defence held out and forced Heworth to play some good rugby out wide. The first of a string of injuries kicked with Standoff Paul Flynn retiring with a dislocated knee and the Centre George Manser was also forced to come off through injury. Mike Welsh the Heworth Number 2 broke the deadlock midway through the first half showing some blistering pace and got his second going through a gap on the Pumas outside which they would be disappointed with. Still it was the Pumas best 40 minutes so far with the score at 12 0 by the break.
Second half saw Peterlee come out similarly to the first, some good attacking moves are starting to come together out wide but the final part is frustratingly not quite coming off at the moment, 16 year old winger Boawe Rankin coming closest following a chip into the corner from lone half back Jack Adamson who played the game of his life saw Boawe just miss out on a score in the right corner.
Heworth got in early in the second half however in the far right corner from a good shift wide to make it 18-0.
Concussion to hooker James Daniels and a sprained ankle to Full Back Scott Williams both playing well in attack and defence and making huge contributions to the Pumas performance saw Peterlee going into the final quarter with no interchanges left and fatigue set in Heworth Capitalised with 6 tries in 18 minutes adding to take the final score to Peterlee 0 Heworth 52.
Next Game away to Wigan St Cuthberts Saturday 6th April.
A tough trip to one of the strongest sides in the competition, the fixture list hasn’t been kind to Peterlee lining them up against the top teams in each of the first month of fixtures and it doesn’t get any harder than travelling to Whitehaven to play Kells. Four late cry offs due to injury from the Pumas, Road works and traffic accidents conspired against the Pumas right from the start meaning a late arrival for most of the team and very little warm up time however a full squad travelled to give it their all. However the Pumas got off to a good start and were competing in the first half. Getting more ball in this game than in the previous two together the Pumas will be annoyed with themselves for lack of execution. The Pack were drawing penalties in the battle up front getting the repeat sets but the lack of experience at this level showed against a determined home defence.
Kells on the other hand were able to put attacks together and although not able to boss the middle as easily as they may have thought were able to shift the ball wide and play some really good rugby at pace on the fringes. The Pumas defence scrambled throughout the game and in particular winger Dan Alvey saved multiple tries covering from the wing and chasing across from his side to the other to stem the tide at times. The Pumas can be annoyed that they hadn’t built on the progress from the previous weeks and at best consolidated their performance at home. At Half time it was 34-0 similar to the previous game at home but I the second half Coach Martin Flynn had to go read the riot act after 4 or 5 soft tries had been conceded. This seemed to do the trick and the Pumas came back with more attacking play although not enough to change the result. Full time 86-0 to Kells, below par from the visitors but excellent Rugby from the home team. Next Game home to Underbank Rangers 23rd March, 14:30.
The Pumas hosted their first ever National Conference League games last Saturday against another one of the top flyers hoping for promotion, Warrington Based Woolston Rovers. The club is a combination of the form RLCN team Warrington Wizards and the Woolston Rovers Club which has seen them strengthen both on and off the field and the visitors were able to display excellent organisation and skill despite the atrocious conditions. Before the game Mayor of Peterlee Councillor Robert Kyle presented the Woolston team with a Town Plaque to commemorate the occasion.
The Pumas needed to put a lot of work in training last week now having seen first-hand at Pilkington what was required of them and they didn’t disappoint. A massive improvement in defensive line speed, work rate off the ball and a general determination saw theme match and frustrate Woolston for the first 20 minutes, a much better performance from last week. The turning point came when fullback Zac Mcluskey took a knock to the head and had to retire which offset the Pumas defensive organisation that had been coping so well with attack after attack. Also the Peterlee side were kept pinned in their own 20 for 3 sets giving Woolston a good attacking platform and they finally crossed.
The floodgates opened for the rest of the half and Woolston took their total up to 34. HT 0-34. The break was used to reorganise and in the second half Peterlee got back to playing some good rugby themselves and getting the defences coping well. Pumas man of the match Carl Brown ran an excellent line to cross for the Pumas and Hooker Paul Flynn converted, with 10 minutes to the second half score was only 6-10 to the visitors as was commented on by Gordon Wallace illustrating a much more competitive Pumas side but two late tries by Woolston took the final score to 56. Full Time Innovtech Peterlee Pumas 6 Woolston Rovers 56.
Next Game Kells (Whitehaven) away 16th March, Next Home games 23rd and 30th to 2 more potential promotion chasers Underbank Rangers (Huddersfield) and Heworth (York).
The Pumas Junior Section also finished off the Day with a race night at the Pavilion raising nearly £500 to go towards the season.