Hull Ionians conceded far too much territory through far too many penalties but deservedly led with ten minutes to play. Although Billingham drew level, to look on the positive side Hull Ionians did not concede the match.
Billingham held 90% of the ball for the first twenty minutes giving Hull Ionians tackling a stern test and at least holding their line. Ryan Foreman took first blood with a penalty but eventually a deep clearance kick was run back well releasing player coach Peter Evans to cross, Foreman adding the conversion.
On 22 minutes Hull Ionians made their first foray up to the attacking 22 with a penalty line-out and made it count. A clean take and drive took them close to the line then spreading the ball wide for Will Yates to race over, Lewis Minikin adding the extras from out wide.
Billingham struck again from a close-range line-out, Mike Walton taking at the front and running clean through, Foreman converting having missed an earlier penalty.
On the half hour Hull Ionians scored the try of the match from a midfield line-out. A take and drive sucked in the forwards then quick passing saw Sam Pocklington release Sam Wilson to make ground with Pocklington taking the return pass to score near the posts, Minikin again converting to trail 14-17 at the break having conceded 9 penalties to 6 and scoring from two of their 3 chances. Keep up this completion rate, cut out the mistakes and the there was a way to win.
I’s had the prefect start to the second half with two tries in ten minutes. A chip over the top from Charlie Kirk saw Minikin race in and gather to score, then Allan Hudson charged through everyone from a line-out 40 metres out to go under the posts, Minikin converting both.
Billingham then held territorial advantage helped by a high penalty count and their forwards scored twice from close range. Prop forward Joe Spoors crashed over and replacement no 8 Connor Witton drove through, Foreman converting both to lead 31-28.
Hull Ionians replied immediately with Scott Walker forcing a turnover for Lucas Powell to pick up and break. A quick penalty for not releasing the tackle saw Sam Pocklington take play to the 5 metre line where pressure resulted in Joe Makin driving James Sanderson over by the posts. Five minutes later Minikin landed a 35 metre penalty to complete his 100% kicking record for the day to give a 7 point lead with ten minutes to play.
Billingham pressure from penalties saw Pete Evans cross again, Foreman converting to level the scores with Hull Ionians now down to 14 men. Billingham attempted two drop goals to win the match but Sam Pocklington spotted the set up and charged down both clearing play to half way, where another tackle was ruled high, this time by the shortest player on the pitch, for a second yellow card to the hosts. But the hosts held out, they were not going to lose this match.
The final penalty count of 19 was perhaps key to keeping the visitors in the game, but they also conceded 10 plus a 10 metre march back for dissent as both sides struggled to get on the same wavelength as the match officials.