AT first glance one might be forgiven for thinking that league leaders Blyth steamrollered another lowly team aside, but Saturday’s 59-13 win over Hartlepool was far from the truth.
May be the Blyth players were still coming to terms with the news that coaching duo Dave Massie and Richard Calvert are to leave at the end of the season.
As it was, on the mist shrouded Plessey Road ground Hartlepool gave Blyth all the trouble they could handle in the first half, and it was not until the second period that the home side hit top form, running in six tries.
Blyth went ahead after ten minutes through full back Chris Grey having been put in by winger James Bostock with centre Andy Sutherland converting for a 7-0 lead.
Within minutes Hartlepool were level with a try from second row Karl Hansen, which was converted by centre Pat Wilson.
A fine try from scrum-half and captain Tony Smithson put Blyth ahead at 12-7, but on the half hour home No. 8 Stefan Krzysiak suffered a knee injury and had to be replaced by Jack Eastman.
A penalty by Pat Wilson brought Hartlepool back into the game at 12-10.
At this point Blyth were struggling to take control and were relieved when Grey picked a pass virtually off his toes to score and with Andy Sutherland converting.
But Hartlepool were far from finished and just prior to the break Wilson kicked his second penalty to cut Blyth’s lead to 19-13.
What had been an excellent first half from Hartlepool began to unravel in the second as Blyth’s superior pace and stamina kicked in.
Skipper Tony Smithson was on the score sheet again having been put in by Bostock.
Fly-half Gregg Dawson converted and repeated the trick when centre Graeme Sutherland crossed the line.
Blyth now led 33-13 and though the visitors continued to battle, things were looking ominous for them.
Great approach play by Andy Sutherland and hooker Martin Stephenson, who had an outstanding game, put Bostock over the line for 38-13.
Fly-half Gregg Dawson was then put clear by Andy Sutherland and converted the kick himself for 45-13.
Dawson was then replaced by Ollie Clark as a completely dominant Blyth seemed to be able to score at will.
Further tries came from second row Craig Turnbull and Graeme Sutherland, whose score was converted by brother Andy.
The final score of 59-13 included nine tries and earned Blyth a bonus point and puts them nine points ahead of closest rivals Consett.
Blyth skipper Tony Smithson was fulsome in his praise for his team’s all round performance with everybody making a contribution.
On Saturday Blyth visit Seaton Carew for a 3pm kick-off.