Close affair at Gateshead
Huge penalty count hampers Westoe's Progress
Anyone hoping for a repeat of last week’s exiting encounter against Durham were sorely disappointed with the match revolving around the conditions and the ref’s whistle.
Playing against a strong wind, Gateshead started the better, showing determination and commitment from the start. Playing off a dominate scrum, Gateshead maintained good possession and threatened Westoe’s defence with a barrage of dangerous runs which tested Westoe’s defence to the full.
With Gateshead in control of the ball, Westoe needed to make every tackle count and they met the challenge, the high point of the half a punishing smash from hooker Jamie Hughes, toppling his opponent and spilling the ball at the same time.
Gateshead came close to a couple of early scores, with winger Rawlinson prominent for the home side and centres Austin and Tate putting in some clever kicks that turned Westoe’s defensive line.
Midway through the half, Gateshead were unfortunate to lose winger Rawlinson to injury, after he was bundled into touch during a speedy attack out wide.
Westoe had few chances in the half, falling foul of the ref and giving away no less than fourteen penalties in the opening 40 mins, the ensuing desperation enticing them into trying to force a score at any opportunity. Despite some menacing runs from Sam Hughes and Luke Moffett, Westoe couldn’t find a way across the home side’s line and the first half ended scoreless.
It was a revitalised Westoe who started strong in the second half. Early drives from Anthony Rumis, Ryan Lamb and Sam Gaff steered Westoe into Gateshead territory and ball spun wide found Matt Rannigan with a little space and plenty of pace to cross in the corner for the lead. 0-5
It was Rumis again who set up try number two, crashing his way through traffic, and when brought down, quick recycled ball went wide again, this time to Paul Evan, crossing to increase the lead. 0-10
Gateshead came back with a penalty against Westoe, converting to keep the score within a try. 3-10
Now playing against the wind, Westoe looked to be in control of the game; however frustration at the score line began to set in, with too many forced or dropped passes halting their progress.
With ten left in the match, Gateshead went all out for the win and following some slick handling, winger Mather found himself with enough space to cross in the corner and bring the home side to within two points. 8-10
Westoe had previously taken three or four penalties quickly, only to be brought back on every occasion. This time, however, Luke Moffett was allowed to go and a slalom solo effort brought the score. 8-17
The spectators were treated to 57 seconds of pure magic when coach, Graeme Smith, entered the fray, only to leave it within a minute with a leg injury.
Both sides fought to the end, with Gateshead still trying for the win and Westoe looking for the four-try bonus point.
Not the greatest of games, Westoe will be disappointed they didn’t come away with all five points, but pleased at the win under difficult conditions. The side produced another solid defensive performance negating the possession advantage of the home side. The second half saw them compete at the scrum and at times they produced some excellent plays that they would normally have finished off.
Final score 8-17
Moving on they need to retain focus when things aren’t going to plan and have the patience in attack to resist forcing the pass.
Gateshead showed great commitment and they scrummaged well, especially in the first half of the match and their attacking play was a good test for the Westoe defence, which again performed well.
Westoe remain in fourth spot in the league with their next opponents, Novos, sitting one behind them in fifth. They take a week’s respite from the league for cup matches and face Novos on the 17th November.