Poor decisions scupper Westoe
Westoe's wasted opportunities cost result
Lookers sponsored South Shields Westoe travelled to Redcar, looking to consolidate their third place in the league against a side struggling after gaining promotion to Durham and North One.
The sun was shining and with only the slightest of breeze and a wide dry pitch, the spectators were expecting a festival of running rugby.
They were wrong.
Today’s game was decided by defence and bad decisions. Looking in control from the start, Westoe found a side who were not about to bow down to league status. The home team defending hard, with quick line-speed and brave tackling from the off.
Westoe’s customary launch-pad of the scrum didn’t fire as normal. With juggernauts Elliott Raymie and Rob Scorer unavailable, they were dealt another blow early on, when they lost hooker James Sant to the blight of the HIA. Nathan Peel moved into the hooker spot and coach Graeme Smith eagerly dropped into prop for the remaining 70+ minutes.
In a jittery, stop/start match, both sides struggled with any patterns, with defence and the whistle ruling the day.
Redcar fell fowl with the referee first, receiving two yellow cards in succession for back-chatting and a high(ish) tackle.
Westoe were on the scoreboard first after a well taken line-out was driven over the home side’s line, for Graeme Smith to touch down after 30 minutes. 0-5
Looking on the up, Westoe increased their lead in customary fashion. Winning the ball against the head, Sam Gaff picked from the base of the scrum to feed Daniel Irving on the half-way line. Irving showed pace and vision to out-sprint the Redcar defence to score in the corner. 0-10
The second half started well for Westoe, with Michael Potts breaking the sturdy Redcar defence, with Zach Clark in support. Clark drew in three defenders and offloaded to Joe McKenzie who finished the job, cutting back inside to increase the lead. 0-15
With a home side never about to give up, Westoe fell foul to bad habits from this point on. Seemingly asleep after their score, they lost any concentration and intensity which allowed Redcar to build up some steam and launch attacks of their own.
Redcar’s first try demonstrated how easy it is to score by playing the basics well and not over—complicating things. A solid scrum was spun along the line with outside centre, Duddles, delaying his run and hitting the line fast and hard to ease through Westoe’s defensive line. 7-15
With a slight advantage at set-piece, Westoe won the majority of possession; however time after time wasted good ball by throwing long looping “miss-one, miss-two, miss-EVERYBODY passes” that closed down any space allowing the fired Redcar defenders to easily close down any wide attacks.
After pouncing on loose ball, Redcar set up an attack down the line and into Westoe’s 22. Again, simple movement along the line saw the ball reach full-back, Addison, with a simple two-on one to take the score to 12-15 with fifteen left to play.
Redcar almost took the lead with yet another ball along the line; however as the score looked inevitable, Daniel Irving pulled off a spectacular try-saving tackle forcing the winger into touch.
With the clock ticking, Westoe tried to force the match. Continuing the wild long passes and trying to force the score they gave up great attacking chances over and over. With Redcar receiving yet another yellow, they defended well and forced a penalty of their own and with ten minutes left to play, tied the match. 15-15
The final ten found Westoe camped firmly on Redcar’s line looking for both the win and the four-try bonus; however a combination of forced passes and strong Redcar defence held them out.
Westoe threw away two easy opportunities to take the win in added time. With Redcar giving up two penalties directly in front of the posts and within ten metres of the line, Westoe opted for the scrummage and despite dominating the set-piece the Redcar defence was akin to their new sea-walls, soaking up the battering from the big Westoe pack.
Final score was a 15-15 draw and a day that Westoe need to learn from, put behind them and move on. Westoe need to focus on retaining concentration after scores and to have belief and patience in their skill-sets.
Westoe are creating huge spaces out wide; however the obsession with the long pass is eating up the space as quick as they create it. Trust in the talent along the line and realise that accurate short passing alongside some straight running will hold the defence tight and maintain the space out wide.
Redcar showed how competitive the league can be and how small margins and decisions can provide “upsets” throughout. Strong in defence and quick with turn-over ball, they appear to be improving week after week and should cause other clubs problems during the season.
Positives from the match came in the form of a competent half from Connor Pascoe, who is improving steadily and fighting for the scrum-half position and an eighty minute shift from prop Nathan Peel. Westoe continued to show a strong defence and despite missing two props were still dominant at scrum-time.
The result drops Westoe to fifth in the league and they must now start targeting the top sides for any chance of promotion this season. They host Horden at Wood Terrace in two weeks, in a game they need to control from the start and retain possession and concentration throughout.
The West Nautical Development team beat Bishop Auckland 62-17 in their Candy League fixture and play Hartlepool away next week.