Horden power through for Victory
Indiscipline and poor decision-making cost Westoe win
Lookers sponsored South Shields Westoe hosted Horden in what promised to be an enthralling encounter. Westoe kicked off down the slope and with a fresh breeze at their backs.
For long periods of the match, both sides showed their prowess tight in, with a tantalising forward battle where Westoe were shunted back in the scrum, but edging the line-out and a well-matched competition in the loose where both sides showed solid defence.
Neither side showed any real attacking prowess out wide, with back-lines struggling to get their passing game going – a continuing blight for Westoe this season.
After a huge Horden scrum, play was marched towards the home side’s line. Winning a line-out, Horden spun the ball along the backs and second phase found Heckles cutting back inside to find the smallest of gaps in the defence. 0-5
Within minutes, the sides exchanged penalties. 3-8
Despite struggling in the set-scrum, Westoe worked well in the loose, with possession being shared between the sides. Unfortunately, Westoe hadn’t learnt from recent performances and despite creating space and overlaps out wide, continued to squander opportunities with the now customary long, looping passes to thin air.
In the words of one supporter – “It’s like déjà vu all over again!”
In the first half alone, on no fewer than eight occasions, the ball was literally thrown away. To make matters worse, Horden’s second try not only came from gathered loose ball, it was a perfect example of how Westoe should be attacking at this level.
Forward crash-balls sucked in the Westoe defence, created space out wide and four easy short passes along the line gave Turnbull a simple run into the corner to end the first half 3-13.
Westoe started the second half in control with a simpler strategy and marched their way up the slope towards Horden’s line. For almost ten minutes they battered a sturdy, fired Horden defence and it looked as though they would eventually breach a tiring Horden side; however yet again with a score in sight the ball was thrown thirty metres into space where Horden centre, King, scooped the ball, ran through the disorganised Westoe defence and chipped long.
Allowing the ball to bounce rather than competing, fullback Hagan was left standing as Turnbull gathered the ball to run unhindered under the posts. Horden increased their lead soon after with a penalty. 3-23
Westoe did up their game against the tiring opposition; however were hampered by indiscipline, resulting in three yellow cards that made any viable comeback unlikely. Finishing strong, Westoe scored last after some punishing forward drives, culminating in Andy Kirton offloading to Sam Gaff to end the game. 10-23
Westoe will need to move on from this upset and focus on the recurring issues of the season. They came up against a determined and aggressive Horden pack that were certainly the more intense side on the day. This led to Westoe trying to force the match and throw away any meaningful chance of victory.
The good news is that Westoe only need to make small adjustments to get back to winning ways. Remain patient and concentrate on simple movement of the ball. Almost halfway through the season and over 50% of scores conceded have come directly from long “hail Mary” passes that have been gathered by the opposition. The back three need to attack high balls rather than accepting the lottery of the bounce, and the team need to up the intensity against sides like Horden, who demonstrated how fierce commitment and passion can secure victory.
The season is still up for grabs, however Westoe now need the top three to slip-up. They face league leaders Barnard Castle at Wood Terrace next week in a must-win game if they want to be in promotion contention come April.