Westoe Dominant in Scrappy Affair
Battle for Promotion Play-off Spot Continues
Lookers sponsored South Shields Westoe travelled to Novocastrians on a sunny day perfect for running rugby. With two games remaining, Westoe needed to secure two 5-point wins and hope that either Barnard Castle or Consett slip up in the league run-in.
Playing with the breeze in the first half, Westoe piled on the early pressure threatening the home side’s line. Early defence turned over the ball and Novos struggled to clear their lines as Westoe pinned them deep in the 22m, eventually Ryan Lamb stealing the ball and mounting an attack.
Despite a clear overlap, Westoe opted to chip the defence which led to a knock-on and a Westoe scrum. Driving towards the line, the scrum was collapsed and Westoe awarded a penalty. A second scrum powered its way forward; this time Sam Gaff picked at eight to power over for the score. 0-5
With the majority of both territory and possession, Westoe’s second came through Jake Arnold, who spotted the space and ran through traffic for a superb individual score under the posts with 15 minutes played. 0-12
Looking to be in total control, Westoe drifted off pace kicking away good possession or fumbling easy passes. They also struggled to adapt to the referee’s law interpretations, giving away penalties and possession.
It took a further seventeen minutes before Jake Arnold produced another individual score; this time from 60m out. Fielding a long clearance kick he wove his way through the defence to touch down under the posts. 0-19
Fielding the restart, Andrew Kirton collected the ball to force his way out of the 22m to almost the half-way line, before an intelligent offload to Sam Gaff, who finished the job speeding the last 55m to score his second and Westoe’s fourth, securing the vital try-bonus point before half time.
With a penalty count of 8 – 3, Westoe were awarded a yellow card just before half-time and were down to fourteen men.
Special thanks to the pitch clearing crew who sprang into action after a local canine supporter invaded the pitch at half-time to show his opinion of the match in a way only a dog can.
From the kick-off, Novos upped the tempo for their best spell of the match. Pressurising for the first time, Novos’ Menzfeld charged 30m through the Westoe defence passing to Selkirk who scored within a minute. 7-26
Spurred on by the score, Novos continued to attack and with Westoe continuing to fall on the wrong side of the whistle, a series of penalties led to Novos edging upfield with Josh Stacey eventually crossing after seventeen minutes. 12-26
Westoe continued the half dominating in all areas; however attacking moves continued to break down due to avoidable handling errors or penalties.
Twenty minutes in, Westoe’s pack shoved their opponents back, causing scrappy ball to lead to a rare penalty for Westoe. Joe McKenzie saw the space and took a quick tap, offloading to Chris Judson who finished the score under the sticks. 12-33
From the restart, Westoe again fell foul to a series of penalties allowing Stacey to score his second and earn Westoe a second yellow card. 17-33
The final quarter saw Westoe continue to play at a lightening tempo, with some great runs from Jamie Preston and Jake Arnold, coupled with outstanding support play throughout the side.
Try number six came from a line-out drive, stopped short, with Wayne Foster darting across the line from 10m out. 17-40
Immediately from the restart, Andrew Kirton returned the ball again to halfway, followed with drives from John Younghusband and Derek Worthington creating the space for Rob Scorer to demolish the remaining defence crashing across the line for the score. 17-47
As the clock ticked down, another dominant scrum allowed Sam Gaff to pick from the base and feed Chris Judson for his second and Westoe’s eighth of the day. 17-52
Well into injury time and the last word went to Sean Ramsay, who forced his way over from ten metres out, ending an easy, but frustrating victory. Final score 17-59
A scrappy affair at times, Westoe suffered with a serious curse of the dropsies as they spilled the ball on six separate occasions within 5m of the try-line. Westoe also struggled to adapt to the ref, giving away 17 penalties to Novos 8, and receiving two yellow cards in the process.
They now face the oft-postponed fixture against Gosforth on Wednesday night, where they must finish with another five-point win and hope that Barnard Castle or Consett slip up in the final week of what has been a long drawn-out season hampered by the extreme weather.
Whatever happens, this has been another great season for the home-grown Westoe side who will only improve with time. They may look back with regrets to the two drawn matches of the season where they fell well below their normal intensity; however should learn from these matches and develop further.
With a strong crop of Colts on the horizon, Westoe can build on the year and continue to compete with whoever may be top of the table next season. The squad has improved over the year and are now developing valuable experience throughout the side and need only to maintain form in all matches and recognise that all teams within the league can produce results against form. That said, Westoe are still in a position where they can gain the second spot play-off and the mathematicians may be busy for another week or so.