Whitehaven 12 Newcastle Thunder 8

Another hard-fought contest went Whitehaven’s way as their sixth successive victory lifted them into fourth place in League One.

Reduced to just the bare 17 players once again, it was the battling qualities of the team which shone through and carried them over the finish line.

It really is quite remarkable what Whitehaven have achieved again this season, on limited funds and resources, yet still competing hard for a play-off place.

Newcastle were tough, durable opponents who certainly enjoyed plenty of possession and territory but could only breach a determined home defence once – and that was for a try which was hotly contested.

Thunder had finished the first half strongly and were right back in the contest with a converted try just before the break.

It was a momentum which carried them through the third quarter of the game when Haven could hardly get out of their own half.

A very low completion rate hindered the Whitehaven cause but, the way they dealt defensively with the best Thunder could offer, frustrated the visitors.

However, they did draw level with a penalty and, at 8-8, looked the side more likely to go on and win it.

But so too did London Skolars a week earlier, when they pulled back to 16-12, and so too had Workington Town when they got in front with seven minutes left – and neither was able to do it.

Back came Whitehaven yet again, the never-say-die exponents, and it was Jessie Joe Parker who produced a very special finish to score what proved to be the winning try 10 minutes from time.

As predicted, it had been a hard-fought contest from the start with Remy Marginet spurning the first chance of the game when he fired wide from a 30-metre penalty in front of the posts.

Whitehaven had been slow to warm to their task but they took the lead on 21 minutes with a clever kick from Connor Holliday which saw Dave Thompson arriving late to dive in and get the touchdown in the corner.

Jordan Burns missed the conversion but he did put over penalties in the 25th and 36th minutes to give Haven an eight-point cushion.

It looked as though Haven would take that lead in with them at the break but, in the final minute, Adam Brook banged in a kick downfield early in the set.

The real pacey centre Lewis Young gave chase and looked favourite but Jason Mossop did really well and, football style, produced a clean, sliding tackle to clear the ball.

Unfortunately, it went behind the sticks and Young was able to readjust his sights and beat more Haven cover to the touchdown.

It seemed as though the touch judge had spotted an infringement to disallow the score but referee Mike Mannifield was adamant there was nothing amiss and awarded the try which Marginet converted.

Whitehaven were not seen as an attacking force for some time in the second half but all Thunder could manage was an early Marginet penalty to give his side parity.

Whitehaven just couldn’t hold on to the ball for long enough and they had not mounted a serious attack until the 70th minute.

But what a result.

Parker used his strength to get through the first two tackles and then powered his way to dive over in the corner ahead of the last defender.

Whitehaven had their noses in front and, after that, almost added to their lead as both Carl Forster and Josh Eaves were stopped on the line.

There were a couple of dangerous breakaways from Newcastle but Haven snuffed them out and got through to another ceditable victory.

Match Facts

Whitehaven: Burns, Green, Taylor, Mossop, Thompson, Phillips, Howarth, Shackley, Eaves, Tilley, Holliday, Gillam, Forster. Subs (all used) Abram, Coward, McAvoy, Parker.

Tries: Thompson, Parker. Goals: Burns (2/4).

Newcastle: Ritson, Agoro, Dent, Young, Blair, Brook, Marginet, McAvoy, Simons, J. Aldous, Clarke, Luckley, H. Aldous. Subs (all used) Rennie, Fitzsimmons, Pointer, Caland.

Try: Young. Goals: Marginet (2/3).

Half time 8-6

Penalties: 7-9

Crowd: 551

Referee: Mike Mannifield

Star Man: Marc Shackley