1st-Half Hagan Hat-trick in Scrappy Stockton Encounter
Scrappy Affair in Teesside
Lookers Sponsored South Shields Westoe travelled to Stockton on a cold, grim drizzly day in Teesside.
They had the dream start with Louis Hagan scoring within the first minute. Receiving the kick, Westoe kept the ball tight, driving through their forwards; releasing the ball, Moffett kicked long and a loose long pass was easily intercepted by Hagan who outpaced the pursuing defence to score under the posts. 0-7
Anyone thinking this would be easy were soon disproved, when a poor restart gave Stockton good possession which they drove towards Westoe’s line. The defence held firm, until Westoe conceded a penalty on their five metre line. Electing for the scrum, Stockton pressured well and No.8, Dixon picked and powered his way over for the score. 5-7
Although Westoe never looked in much danger, the game quickly deteriorated into a scrappy loose affair; both sides struggling to string together many phases. With Westoe controlling both possession and territory, they struggled to break down a stern home defence, eager to protect their line.
Westoe drove their way close to the line with powerful drives from Raymie Elliott, Anthony Rumis and John Younghusband, but were halted on the line by an aggressive home pack; led by back-row, Dixon, who combined hard hits with an amazing awareness of the referee’s sight. His luck eventually running out, the referee showed his first yellow card of the day and Westoe opted for the scrum.
A strong drive shunted the home side over the line; unfortunately, the slippery ball eluding Sam Gaff’s grip as he crossed, spilling the ball and letting Stockton off the hook.
Stockton cleared long – straight into the waiting hands of Carlin Moseley who returned the ball to half-way. Recycled quickly by Connor Pascoe, Louis Hagan sprinted through traffic, passing to Luke Moffet, who returned the favour with twenty metres to go for Hagan’s second of the day. 5-14
Another poor restart found Westoe again lacking composure and concentration, allowing Stockton easy possession and within a minute, Stockton’s Horner found a great line, speeding through some lack-lustre tackling to close the score to 12-14 after 28 minutes.
Westoe’s pack again took control against a spirited Stockton side, keeping the ball tight and driving methodically up-field. Grinding to a halt around the half-way line, Connor Pascoe spun the ball to Moffett who stepped his opposite number, found Jake Arnold in support, who fed Hagan for his hat-trick after 35 minutes. 12-19
It was déjà vu all over again on the restart, with Westoe again seemingly sleeping. Stockton gathered loose ball and attacked. Unable to breach the midfield defence and receiving a penalty, the home side kicked the points. Westoe quickly responded with a penalty of their own leaving the half-time score 15-22
The second half was a dismal affair, with conditions, coupled with determined defence restricting any meaningful attacks. Westoe pressured deep within Stockton’s half for almost twenty-five minutes, until the inevitable happened, when Stockton’s Dixon received another yellow card, this time for stamping. The two yellows meant a Red for Dixon and Stockton were down to 14 for the remainder of the game.
With the light fading and the clock ticking down, Westoe’s pressure finally told. Receiving a penalty for offside, they elected for a scrum and demolished the home side, driving them over the line. As they crossed, the home side crumbled and the referee ran under the posts awarding a penalty try with five minutes left to play. 12-29
The last play of the match was a final penalty for Westoe, converting for a final score of 15-32.
Never in any danger of defeat, Westoe need to address the restarts and learn to be patient and composed throughout. Seemingly asleep after every score – All Stockton’s points came within a few minutes of restarts - this has been a recurring issue and players must remain switched on at all times.
Westoe remain in third spot, with the other three league contenders all winning their games this week. They face Gateshead at home next Saturday in another must win match.
The West Nautical sponsored Development team were also winners against Stockton. 36-12