Prolonged Pressure Piles Points on Plucky Ponteland
Strong second half performance from Westoe
Lookers sponsored South Shields Westoe went into this game expecting an easy ride. This was certainly put on hold; at least for the first half of the match.
Playing down the slope and with a strong breeze, Ponteland started well, stringing together some good passages of play. Fullback Chick kicked well and along with winger Lyndon caused a few early challenges.
Westoe’s defence held firm and all attacks were snuffed out, led by a fine performance from their back-row trio of Ramsay, McKenzie and Evans.
Twelve minutes in, Westoe were attacking the visitors’ line, when Michael Booth spotted Ponteland’s guard straying too wide and exploited the gap, feeding Worthington who powered his way under the posts. Converted by Zach Clark. 7-0
Westoe’s Achilles heel struck after 20 minutes. With a clear two man overlap on offer, the easy quick hands option was missed and a long, looping miss-pass thrown, that inevitably went to no-one. The loose ball was gathered by Lyndon and after some speedy support play and accurate passes, Ponteland’s Chick crossed in the corner. 7-7
With ten to play in the half, Luke Moffett took a quick penalty, linked with Ryan Lamb, who put Michael Booth over the line to retake the lead. Converted by Zach Clark. 14-7
With the game still in the balance, Ponteland were penalised and awarded a yellow card. Westoe kicked to the corner, secured clean ball and drove over the line, sean ramsay touching down to end the half 19-7
Now playing with the slope and wind, Westoe hit the killer blow within minutes of the second half. A powerful line-out catch and drive took them within ten metres; Michael Booth fed prop Raymie Elliott, who destroyed the defence, eventually offloading a perfectly weighted pass to Joe McKenzie. 26-7 and the try-scoring bonus point.
With Westoe receiving a Paul Evans yellow card, Ponteland attacked from the restart; however loose ball at the line-out was gathered by Joe McKenzie who raced down-field, the pass finding Jamie Preston and with a crowded defensive line, cut an inside line to find the space. Converted by Clark 33-7
With fifteen minutes played, flanker sean ramsay delighted the crowd with a fifty metre break; finding himself with a clear run to the line he chose the safe option of giving the ball to centre Preston, who finished off the job with another converted score. 40-7
Despite the score, Ponteland never gave in, defending well against a rampant Westoe side and it took a further fifteen minutes for the next score. Luke Moffett glided 50m down the slope and when stopped by Ponteland’s Chick, replacement flanker Liam Jackson scooped up the loose ball to Joe McKenzie who fed Zach Clark who converted his own score. 47-7
The match finished with prop Ryan Lamb on another of his thunderous runs, breaking the line. Brave defence prevented him crossing; however quick recycling from Chris Judson found Raymie Elliott who finished the job. Converted by Clark 54-7
Westoe now move up to third in the league, where five teams are all within six points of each other.
Possibly one of this season’s most complete performance, Westoe are starting to look very strong in all areas of the pitch. They still need to work on retaining patience in attack and resist the temptation of the over-ambitious thirty metre passes, which rarely find the intended recipient and often find an overjoyed opponent.
Westoe’s power running and speedy back-three can cause opponents problems from all areas of the pitch and they are continuing to turn over opposition ball with solid defensive shifts. Westoe are now in the enviable position of having some real strength in depth in the majority of positions, with genuine competition in several spots.
Westoe travel to Redcar next week and will need to replicate today’s performance to maintain their promotion aspirations. Redcar appear to be adapting to the new league and ran Horden very close this week. Although sitting towards the bottom of the table, results have shown that they are capable of an upset; however another strong performance should see Westoe through.