Close Encounters of the Consett Kind
Defence ruled in tight match
Lookerssponsored South Shields Westoe entertained old rivals Consett in a double-header league/cup match. With the teams sitting 3rd and 4th in the league and the added pressure of a County Cup Final place at stake, this was always looking to be a close, enthralling encounter.
From the first whistle, both sides looked committed and up for the contest, defences laying down early markers. Consett’s back-line showed remarkable line-speed and harassed the Westoe attacks, whilst Westoe relied on solid wall of hard hits stopping the visitors in their tracks.
The first quarter of the match was an even affair, both sides trying both route one and exploring the wide channels, and both sides being met by solid defence. A Westoe offside gave Consett the early lead after 8 minutes. 0-3
In a tight battle up front Westoe found themselves on the receiving end of some powerful scrums and evenly matched loose-play. This allowed the Consett back-line to come up quickly in defence, snubbing out the close, tight attacks from Westoe.
Playing down the slope, Consett received another penalty which was kicked long into touch. The ensuing line-out was taken clean and driven over for the first try of the match after almost twenty minutes. 0-8
With Consett playing the territory game well, pressure on the Westoe line was thwarted by lock John Younghusband, resisting the customary long pass into the centre of the field, he spotted some space and charged uphill to the half-way spot where he was dragged down like a foraging wildebeest surrounded by hyenas.
Consett kept the score-board ticking with a second penalty, again for offside at the ruck. 0-11
The final ten minutes of the half saw Westoe upping the attack and pounding the visitors’ defence, only to be met by a determined side, desperate to hold their line.
Westoe were rewarded with a couple of penalties of their own for off-the-feet at the ruck and successfully converted to end the first half 6-11
Now playing down the slope, Westoe started confidently, a long kick by full-back Arnold finding space deep in Consett’s half and unlucky not to also find wing Jamie Preston who cased the ball down, forcing both ball and defender into touch. The line-out was stolen by Consett who cleared upfield.
Attacking from the line-out, and with a penalty advantage, Mark McMahon spotted the slightest of gaps and darted through a congested defence, offloading the ball and eventually finding captain Andrew Kirton who finished off in style with (for him) a long run-in, diving into the corner for Westoe’s first try. 11-11
Sixteen minutes in and Consett were given a yellow card for a no-arms tackle; down to fourteen, they took the pace up a notch and unleashed some of their best attacking plays of the match. Simple hands and a fast tempo created gaps in the Westoe defence, allowing full-back Cook to find a good line through the home side’s defence and retake the lead with twenty to play. 11-16
With the Westoe scrum now edging their opponents, back-foot play restricted the fast line-speed of the visitors’ defence and allowed Westoe to play some up-front attacking play. A tremendous 30m maul was eventually collapsed feet from the line. Westoe opted for the scrum, which was spun wide to Jamie Preston who scored in the corner, tying the game at 16-16 with ten minutes to play.
Westoe again came close when another maul was collapsed short of the line and Consett cleared the ball. Immediately back on the attack, Joe McKenzie pulled off a moment of marvel as he smashed his way through the valiant defence, forcing and twisting his way over the line to retake the lead with five to play. 23-16
The visitors were not prepared to give up and the crowd were treated to some frantic attacking play and equally dynamic defence. Finding themselves metres from their own line, Haydn Richards blasted his way out of danger, cleared the twenty-two and hoisted a “JY-esque hoof” deep into the away side’s territory.
One final foray from Consett’s winger kept the crowd on edge, as he sped up the wing fending off several Westoe defenders and took the ball into Westoe’s twenty-two. Finally shepherded into touch, Westoe manged to hold onto the ball long enough to end the match. 23-16
An end-to-end tight enjoyable match with both sides showing bravery and commitment in defence and some intense attacking skills. It was strange to see the Westoe pack in reverse for the first half, but they coped with the pressure well and eventually ended the game edging the set-play.
The win keeps them in third position in the league with Barnard Castle and Durham City also winning to retain the status quo at the top of the table.
It also cements Westoe’s place in the Durham County Cup Final, as the Durham Society deemed that this match was a double-header due to the high volume of postponed games to be played by the visitors.
Next week sees a tough trip to Stockton, Westoe realistically needing to win all their remaining matches for a chance of promotion at the end of the season.