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2nd XV - Match centre

Westoe II
Gateshead II
Sat 24 Feb 14:15 - Friendly Full time

2nd team match report

Report by James Collins

The game against Westoe was on the 3G pitch at the college near their ground. After the issues of last week, we arrived with plenty of time to get changed and make our way over there and managed a good warm up before the game. We had a couple of cry offs on the day before/the morning of the game. Luckily, some good recruitment work by Ross meant we already had replacements sorted, and had a couple of subs as well, so we weren’t looking too bad.

Westoe had a few big runners in their forwards and their backs, and they ran at us hard. At the start of the season this would have seen us concede at least a couple of tries, but we managed to hold out.

We struggled with the ball ourselves a little bit, perhaps it was taking a while to get to grips with the pace of the pitch. It is a great surface to play on, but there is no denying that it is very different from playing on grass, and it felt like we were overcompensating a little bit by trying to do everything at 100 miles an hour.

Westoe were clearly better adept at that and had the lions share of the ball. They scored a decent try, and then had a great chance but their player clearly knocked the ball on and didn’t come close to grounding a kick through to the corner. Try given though and we were 2 scores down at half time.

Refs have a difficult time of it, it’s not an easy job and I’m not sure that I’d want to do it the face of some of the abuse that was dished out by the home fans on Saturday. But given our recent run, it is sometimes difficult to accept decisions that are so clearly very wrong, especially ones that have such a significant effect on the game.

We improved in the second half and had chances of out own. We managed a try through Paul Bate from a line out, although they finished off the scoring with another try before the end, giving the score line a harsher look than I thought we deserved. Final Score 19-5.

We had good performances throughout the team though, the scrum worked well, and we pushed them backwards at most opportunities The line out was decent, apart from a few issues caused by the blustery conditions.

Ross Radford led through example and was carrying strongly when given the chance. Paul Bate had another great game around the park, and Lewis Lacey showed his importance to this team and the club in general with a really composed game playing out of position again at 9. John Kelly Also had a great game and was pivotal in providing front foot ball through his hard running in the loose. In the second Half Si Schofield and Jason Boyle made a couple of very good half breaks that (with a bit more confidence in the team) we should have doen better to capitalise on.

I want to give young Finley Reah a special mention as well, he hasn’t played many games at 2nd team level, and he really stood out with his work rate, tackling and running. He stopped a certain try when he managed to rip the ball from their lad in the tackle and turn over good ball, and he really showed up in the face of some big runners. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he played.

Along with the loss, a couple of injuries marred the day, Lewis Lacey took a sore one on the shoulder right at the end of the game, and Dan Fenwick got a cut to the chin that required a few hours spent at A&E and several stitches. Both will be a big miss if they are forced to miss games.

Also, a big thanks to those players that turned out for us due to their own clubs not having games. Micky Robinson again played well, and it’s always brilliant to see him back in a Gateshead shirt. The two lads that Ross brought over from South Shields, Jared Deacon and Connor Deacon were also very very good players. Jared’s control of the back line and decision making, and Connors line breaks through the centre were some of the highlights of our backs play and it was great to have them along.

Lastly, although we enjoyed a good welcome from Westoe before and after the game at the club house, the way some of their lads/members behaved on the touchline was out of order. In general rugby fans are able to cheer on their side without turning in to the kind of baying mobs that can be found in other sports, but on a couple of occasions their reaction to injured players, referee decisions and mistakes from our lads crossed a line and was out of order. We were beaten by a better side on Saturday, and we will take that on the chin (as we have all year), but most clubs we have played this season have been able to win without becoming disrespectful to their opponents.

In my years of playing Westoe at 1st, 2nd and 3rd team level, I’ve generally found them to be a very good club, with a welcoming atmosphere and real family feel. It was a shame that the behaviour of 4 or 5 of their number on Saturday marred that a little bit. I’m sure senior members at their club would not want to be associated with that kind of behaviour and will perhaps have a word with those involved to ensure it doesn’t happen in future.

So, although are performances still on the up, I’m getting a bit bored of saying that every week. Results need to follow! An ideal opportunity this weekend with a cup final at home against Acklam on Saturday. We will be the only Gateshead team playing at home, so it’d be great to see a few supporters down to cheer us on! 3pm Kick off!

OMW Skills Series: Evasion

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