FOLLOWING successive defeats to title rivals Broadstreet and Hinckley, the Old Halesonians hit back to pull off a vital 24-15 victory over Longton in National League 3 Midlands.

However Hales were forced to dig deep, especially as they were reduced to 14 players in the second half when Nathan Jones was shown a red card after the scrum-half was alleged to have committed foul play.

Hales were leading by a slender 16-15 margin at the time but refused to yield.

That was after Hales had made the early running and built an 11-0 lead, brothers Andy and Carl Robinson creating the opening for winger Luke Smith to score before full back Chris Hooper kicked a couple of penalties.

Longton hit back with a converted try before Hales’ talismanic player-coach Mark Evans started a move which saw centre Carl Robinson carved his way through the visiting defence before sending Smith over for his second try.

Leading 16-7 at half time, Hales were left in no doubt about the task ahead as first Longton closed the gap with an unconverted try before landing a penalty.

The loss of Jones could have produced an adverse effect, but instead 14-man Hales continue to apply pressure and eventually Steve Powell again provided the Robinson brothers with the chance to cause havoc before sending winger Joe Oxford over for a third try.

Powell then put sufficient daylight between the teams by kicking a further penalty to complete victory.

The result leaves Hales in fourth place, but just five points adrift of leaders Nuneaton.

Hales head for Newport (Shropshire) this Saturday where they can afford no slip-ups. Kick-off is at 2.15pm and a supporters’ coach is available.

l TWO tries from Al Church and further touchdowns by Chris Deeks, Gregg Smith and Simon Sabell gave Halesonians' second string a slender 29-24 triumph over Old Patesians, Tom Harris kicking the remaining points.

The match was level pegging qat 24-24 when replacement winger Jack Keeling broke clear with a powerful run – and although held up short of the line, managed to feed Simon Sabell who went over for the winning score.

It was a good week for Hales with their Under-17s beating Droitwich 30-7, Ed Dando and Luke Jordan both scoring two tries each.