Thu 27 Apr 2017 14:37

It was a day of drama and sadness as Pocklington wrapped up the N1E title just a few hours after learning of the shock death of Billy Hardy.

In a dramatic finale North 1 East table toppers Pocklington sneaked a 23-22 victory away to second placed West Hartlepool with a last gasp penalty try and conversion.

Most pundits would have agreed that West Hartlepool deserved to win, but ultimately their discipline cost them dear. Hartlepool had a man sin binned and another sent off at the end of the first half, then had two more yellow carded in the second period. Nevertheless, they went into added time leading 22-16 despite being down to 13 men after scoring three long range tries from their own 22.

Pocklington laid siege to the home time in the five minutes of stoppage time but were unable to force a score against determined Hartlepool defence, Pocklington being repulsed from two pushover attempts, stopped a yard short three times, and held up over the line once. In side the last minute Pock had one more five metre scrum, Hartlepool infringed and the referee awarded a penalty try and Matt Procter's conversion gave his side their breathless victory.

Earlier fly half Procter had kicked three penalties and converted a good try by wing Tim Nixon, who was brought infield on the diagonal to crash over at the side of the posts.

But it was Hartlepool free-running backs that held sway, three times breaking clear from their own 22 for spectacular scores, until Pocklington somehow found their way to win at the death.

It was a bitter sweet day for Pocklington. As players and supporters met to travel they were informed that the club's record points scorer and loyal supporter, Billy Hardy, who had been due to take his usual seat on the bus to Hartlepool, had died suddenly the previous evening aged 67. The 1st XV had a minute's silence before the game at Hartlepool (pictured), which was followed by similar minutes by all the club's teams, senior and junior through the weekend. And at the end of the day on Saturday everyone returned to the clubhouse to drink half of Guinness, Billy's usual tipple, to his memory.

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