Newcastle Thunder 30 Whitehaven 22

After a turbulent week off the field, Whitehaven were beaten 30-22 by fellow play-off contenders Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park.

Haven’s defence struggled to deal with the pace of Newcastle as the likes of Tuoyo Egodo and Lewis Young starred for the hosts with a brace of tries each.

Two late tries for Whitehaven proved too little, too late as Carl Forster’s men looked to launch a fight back.

The opening exchanges saw both sides exchange completed sets but, after Liam McAvoy won the first penalty of the game as Haven failed to clear the ruck, Thunder stayed on the front foot and hit the visitors with two tries in quick succession.

The opening four-pointer came on eight minutes as half-back Remy Marginet delayed a pass for Rhys Clarke, who couldn’t be stopped from close-range. Marginet converted.

The restart set brought more success for the hosts.

Adam Brook tricked the defence with a reverse kick, and Marginet boomed a pass to Egodo and the dual-registered Castleford man did the rest. Once again, Marginet added the extras.

Whitehaven had a reprieve in defence soon after as Ben Dent had a try disallowed for offside. The winger timed his run on to a Young grubber too early and the Cumbrians cleared their lines.

Carl Forster’s men almost forged a response but Callum Phillips’ burst to the line on the last tackle was matched by Thunder’s scrambling defence.

On the half-hour mark, Newcastle had a chance to further their lead to three scores but Marginet’s penalty goal was off target.

However, just moments later, Whitehaven – who had defended the previous Thunder set as Clarke kicked to touch – turned possession over from the scrum and the free play saw Newcastle throw the ball left and Dent had a walk-in. Marginet couldn’t convert.

And just like earlier in the half, Whitehaven conceded another try on the restart set as Newcastle took further control of the match.

Young’s pace was used to the hosts’ advantage as the centre touched down after beating David Thompson to a Brook kick. Marginet sliced the conversion wide.

But it wasn’t to be a scoreless half for Haven as they gave their travelling support a glimmer of hope before the break.

Liam Cooper crashed on to a short ball and crossed underneath the sticks.

Dan Abram made no mistake with the conversion, cutting the deficit to 14 points at the interval.

Whitehaven came fast out of the blocks in the second half and it was player-coach Carl Forster leading from the front.

The ex-Super League forward found his way through the Thunder defence and Newcastle full-back Theerapol Ritson couldn’t halt the barnstorming run. Abram goaled and Whitehaven looked to be back in with a shout.

But the Cumbrians let their guard down for another five-minute spell and Thunder made the most of it by scoring two more quick-fire tries.

Breaks from Young and Ritson put Newcastle in a great attacking position and the last tackle saw Egodo step past a defender to complete his brace. Marginet couldn’t convert.

Newcastle always looked dangerous when kicking in-between the defensive line and the full-back/wingers and that’s where Young pounced for his second try of the game.

The half-back found open space on the wing and Young put on the burners before cleanly picking up and diving over at the corner. Brook took over kicking duties but was unsuccessful.

In the final quarter, Haven squandered a massive chance after Jordan Burns broke the line.

The next tackle saw a tentative Dion Aiye tackled with the ball despite having a big overlap on the left wing. The visitors’ set ended as Josh Eaves’ offload went to Thunder hands.

Newcastle made their way downfield and came away with two points to show as Brook kicked a penalty goal from bang in front, putting Thunder 30-12 up with 15 minutes remaining.

In the dying moments of the contest, Josh Eaves and Jordan Burns both touched down but just one Abram conversion put paid to Haven’s comeback effort.

Match Facts

Haven: Abram, Thompson, Taylor, Mossop, Burns; Aiye, Phillips; Shackley, Tilley, Forster; Gilam, Cooper, Howarth.

Interchange: Coward, Eaves, Holliday, Nandye.

Tries: Cooper (39’), Forster (45’), Eaves (76’), Burns (78’)

Goals: Abram 3/4

Thunder: Ritson, Agoro, Egodo, Young, Dent; Brook, Marginet; McAvoy, Pointer, Rennie; Clarke, Ollett, Aldous.

Interchange: Morris, Fitzsimmons, Calland, Davies.

Tries: Clarke (8’), Egodo (10’, 49), Dent (32’), Young (35’, 52)

Goals: Marginet 2/6, Brook 1/2

Penalty count: 4-8

Attendance: 759

Referee: Marcus Griffiths

Star Man: Liam Cooper