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1st XV - Match centre

Hartlepool Rovers
South Shields Westoe
Sat 6 Jan 14:15 - Northern Division - Durham & Northumberland 1 Full time

Injury Time Score secures Westoe Win

Westoe score seven tries to five in close encounter

Lookers sponsored South Shields Westoe travelled to Hartlepool Rovers this week in buoyant mood after recent wins. Knowing that Rovers had only slipped up once at home so far this was always going to be a difficult match and Westoe needed to be on top form.

From the off, it looked as though Westoe would breeze through to win after four tries from winger Jamie Preston within a twenty minute period launched them into a 0-22 lead.

The first half saw Westoe totally in control of proceedings, with play almost exclusively in Rovers’ half. Within ten minutes scrum-half Connor Pascoe recycled the ball after good forward pressure, allowing Jordan Carey to draw the defence and feed Jamie Preston who accelerated wide arcing round the final defender for his first.

A John Younghusband charge downfield led to Preston’s second after linking with Luke Moffet, scoring in the same corner. 0-10

Number three saw bludgeoning runs from Rob Scorer and Ryan Lamb pushing the defence back, Pascoe and Carey linking well and a final long pass to Preston – again touching down in his favourite spot. 0-15

Impressive interplay between Zach Clark and Joe McKenzie set up a carbon copy of try number one, with Preston again touching down for the score. Another difficult conversion, this time slotted over to the joy of the travelling support. 0-22 and the bonus point secured with over ten minutes of the half to play.

The direct approach and forward domination started to slip at this point, with the early patterns being replaced with complicated moves and white-line fever. Despite this Westoe ended the half totally in control of proceedings.

With the stiff breeze on their backs, Rovers started the second half with determination and pushed hard from the whistle. Westoe’s defence was caught napping and with several poor tackle attempts, Rovers’ Liam Wood crossed in the corner for their first. 7-22

No panic at this point, Westoe took immediate control with a series of drives down field from Derek Worthington, Joe McKenzie and Ryan Lamb. Pascoe again fed Carey, who created the space for Zach Clark, touching down and converting under the sticks. 7-29

Rovers again attacked the kick-off and caught the Westoe side complacent, the dangerous Callum Whitehead bouncing players off to score under the posts ten minutes into the half. 14-29

Westoe responded well with a clean line-out take eight metres out and a well-drilled drive touched down by Elliott. 14-34

With twenty –five minutes to play, Rovers turned on the pressure and showed the value of passion and commitment with an all-out display of attacking rugby.

Their third try came again from powerful Whitehead, running hard against a lack-lustre Westoe defence. 21-34 and within a single score of claiming the four-try bonus point.

Opting to decline a possible penalty in front of the posts, Westoe played the line, looking to close the game down; however a determined Rover defence secured their line and cleared the ball.

With the Rovers’ pack fired up, it took only four minutes to bring the score to 28-34 after forward pressure pushed Westoe back into their own twenty-two; Whitehead was held up over the line and the resulting scrum saw the ball spun wide to Hodgson, who barged his way across the line.

The crowd were in for a jittery final ten minutes, with the Rovers side pushing hard for what earlier appeared to be an easy Westoe win and the visitors finally fighting back to stop the rot.

After a rare period of second-half Westoe pressure, Rovers looked to attack wide yet again and a long clearance kick was chased down by Michael Railton, beating the Westoe defence to score a fifth try for the home team. The conversation gave Rovers the lead for the first time of the day with only five minutes to play. 35-34

With the light fading and the clock ticking, Westoe launched one final attack. Gaining a penalty and knowing this was to be the final play, Westoe opted for the line-out. A clean take and drive was collapsed inches from the line and the forwards started to batter the line with a series of pick-and-goes; however the Rovers’ defence held firm.

Scrum-half Pascoe then switched play and recycled the ball to fly-half Carey who finished the day with a great line, splitting the defence to cross for Westoe’s seventh try of the day and the last-gasp win.

Definitely a “game of two halves”, Westoe will need to learn from this encounter and retain concentration and commitment throughout the full 80 minutes.

Rovers’ second-half performance was deserving of the two bonus points they picked up and were unlucky not to steal the win. Club stalwart Bill Dale, who sadly passed during the week would have been proud of the performance by the team who showed passion, pride and commitment. If they can continue in this vain they will be tough to beat.

With the top five clubs all winning this weekend, Westoe remain third in the league and take on Guisborough at home next Saturday.

This promises to be an exciting match, so let’s see a full Wood Terrace stand to support the team.

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Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Consett 26 111
2. Durham City 26 111
3. South Shields Westoe 26 108
4. Barnard Castle 25 103
5. Horden and Peterlee 26 71
6. Gateshead 24 60
7. Hartlepool Rovers 26 57

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