Westoe start with Winning Ways
Tough encounter against local rivals, Gateshead
South Shields Westoe entertained Gateshead for the first round of the Durham Cup. With several early season injuries and an extended bench it gave the side an ideal opportunity to test new players and some positional tweaks prior to the first league match v Medicals next Saturday.
As would be expected, the game started off with some tentative play from both sides, as the teams battled early season nerves and worked at their game-plans.
Westoe settled down first building on a powerful scrum platform, varying their attacks; however, a combination of spirited defence and forced passes saw scoring chances wasted early on.
Threatening the visitors’ line they were awarded a penalty for an intentional knock-on, which was taken quickly and spun along the line to power-house Derek Worthington who forced his way over in the corner after 13 minutes. 5-0
Both sides showed intent and passion, but early season jitters were often the reason for failed attacks.
Westoe were continuing to build on their solid set-piece play when Gateshead pounced on a loose pass and quickly upped the tempo with inside centre, Heelback cutting through the seemingly sleeping Westoe defence to unleash an attack down the right wing to take the lead after 23 minutes, Banning touching down. 5-7
Building themselves, Gateshead were back on the offence when Sean Ramsay stole front line-out ball and offloaded to newly converted prop, Louis Kellett, who blasted through the defence, passing wide to birthday boy, Raymie Elliott, who finished the demolition job under the posts. 12-7
The lead changed hands yet again within a few minutes with another loose ball being forced by the visitors, this time the attack came down the left wing and Gateshead took their opportunity again, changing the tempo and catching Westoe napping with an Anderson score. 12-14
With less than ten minutes to play, Westoe started to regain control of the match. Dominant in the scrums and shading line-out play, the big pack were able to build their driving maul and pick-and-go game. This in turn provided quick ball for the back-line to spread the Gateshead defence.
Powerful line-breaks from Worthington and Hughes in the centre created forward momentum, with Moffett and Arnold providing the Rogers and Astaire dancing feet with the ball. Only a significant defensive shift by the Gateshead centre pairing of Heelback and Tate, prevented Westoe from running away with the game at this point.
Westoe crossed the line with a Ryan Lamb run, only for the ball to be nudged forward over the line. The Westoe pack turned up the pressure forcing the visitors back and winning the feed for scrum number two. Expecting the obvious push, the Gateshead flanks looked to prevent the drive, though scrum-half Booth delivered quick ball to Luke Moffett providing an easy passage to the line – the lead changing hands for the fifth time. 19-14
With the clock ticking down, a Gateshead clearance kick was cleverly kept in play by winger Jordon Damms, Jake Arnold collected the ball, waltzed his way backwards, sideward and eventually forward, evading countless defenders and with some deft interplay the ball reached Sam Gaff who crossed the line on the halftime whistle. 24-14
The second half started with strong runs from Worthington and Evans, setting up the backs to spin the ball down the line with John Younghusband straightening the attack to blast over the line for Westoe’s fifth. 31-14
With Westoe now seeming to be in ascendancy they looked at closing down the match; however a series of avoidable penalties and forced passes meant that promising attacks came to nought.
Westoe’s Moffett received a yellow card on 22minutes giving the visitors a chance to get back into the match.
Gateshead fought back with another display of turnover ball, their inside centre, Heelback, again cutting a good line through the defence, taking the score to within ten with fifteen minutes to play. 31-21
Westoe finished the match with a Paul Evans score. A series of rushed and scrappy attacks seemed to be going nowhere, when Evans exploited the slightest of gaps and sped through the defence to finish a promising start to the season. Final score 38-21
Westoe will be pleased with the result and showed great passion and effort throughout. There were some promising performances from new signings Martin Bengston, Jordan Damms and Alex Wylie, and newly converted prop, Louis Kellett put in a solid shift. The pack looked dominant and the backline showed great promise for the season.
With influential players, Andy Kirton and Joe McKenzie still to return from injury, the squad is looking healthy, with the influx of new signings from neighbours South Shields RFC adding competition for places in both sides.
Westoe only need to avoid the sometimes rushed and forced passes, adapt quickly to turnover ball and to work on reducing the penalty count (14) and they will again be fighting for promotion at the end of the season.
Captain Kirton stated – “I’m relatively pleased with the boys’ performances today. Although we have a few things to work on, it was clear that the passion and spirit is there and we can look forward to the league against Medicals next Saturday.”
The Westoe Development squad made the short journey to Jarrovians RFC on Friday night with a squad of old, new and familiar faces.
After being crowned champions of Candy Division 2 last season, Westoe now find themselves in Division 1 with the North East elite and without any preseason games so far jumped at the chance to play local rivals.
Jarrow kicked off first and from the off Westoe knew they had a game on their hands, with constant pressure from the home side forcing Westoe into errors.
Westoe took control of the game when centre Mark Wilson finished off a fine move off slick hands to take the score to 0-5
From here Westoe looked as if they had found their rhythm with hooker Wayne Foster evading the home sides defenders to touch down under the posts. 0-12.
With Westoe being pushed at every opportunity Jarrow grew more and more in to the game until the ball was spun wide to winger Cameron Hamilton who touched down in the corner taking the score to 0-17.
In a half where Westoe would only score one more unconverted try through prop Brian Pape taking the score to 0-22.
Just before the final whistle blew the home side finally got their score after endless Westoe mistakes the ball was spun to the home side’s fly half who simply glided through to convert his own score. 7-22