Westoe Salvage Two Bonus Points in Scrappy Match
South Shields Westoe travelled to Horden & Peterlee hoping to emulate recent form and continue their winning streak.
Westoe started well after Horden cleared the kick-off to touch, winning clean ball and spinning wide. Sean Ramsay broke through the defence to feed Matt Rannigan on a good support line, Rannigan finishing well to score after only three minutes. 0-5
Looking the more balanced side, Westoe controlled the ball against some aggressive tackling and worked their way back upfield. A clean Ramsay line-out was shipped to Derek Worthington who broke through, an ankle tap bringing him down short, but with Martin Bengston in support to take the pass and touch down after ten minutes. 0-12
Westoe lost some concentration and a couple of unusual missed tackles gave Horden good territory and they unleashed a goal line barrage. After several minutes of solid defence, Westoe were penalised and caught napping as the penalty was taken quickly, James crossing untouched to score. 7-12
In a game that seemed to have more penalties than points, the inevitable yellow cards appeared after 25minutes, with Lamb and James being sent to the bin after a minor fracas.
Horden reacted better to the duel sin-bin and winning the scrum, sent the ball along the line for Mason to score in the corner and tie the match. 12-12
Horden were awarded their second yellow of the day, but were lucky not to see red, after a high tackle felled fullback Rannigan, who required hospital treatment for concussion, neck damage and a cracked rib.
With Rannigan unable to be moved and no time scale for the oncoming ambulance, it was decided to move the match to Horden’s second pitch causing a twenty minute delay to proceedings..
On a more exposed pitch and with the start of the rain, the game was quickly deteriorating into a scrappy disjointed match, which seemed to favour the home side and they soon took the lead for the first time after a Westoe penalty. 15-12
Westoe re-took the lead with the last play of the half. Luke Moffett and Paul Evans combined to win the territory and opted for a scrum at the following penalty. Sam Gaff picked from the base to cross. 15-19
There was no further scoring for the first thirty minutes of the second half that was dominated by the wind, rain and whistle. In a throwback to the 1980s, the game became increasingly fragmented and antagonistic with neither side proving able to control the ball.
Horden managed to disrupt any clean ball at rucks and had Westoe’s scrum under pressure. Westoe gradually lost shape and control, sinking to the level of their hosts and deviating from their game-plan.
After a series of penalties, Westoe’s Moffett was shown a yellow-card for not releasing, which was upgraded to a red after he questioned the decision.
With ten to play and the numerical advantage, Horden’s pack upped their efforts and after a strong scrum drive, they attacked the fringes to retake the lead. 22-19
In Horden’s best period of play and with only two minutes to play, they drove the scrum towards the line and the referee went under the posts and awarded a penalty try. 29-19
Westoe showed some composure in the final minutes, Michael Booth taking a quick tap and feeding Gaff to cross to at least come away with two losing bonus points. 29-24
Westoe will be disappointed to lose this one as they looked to be the better side for much of the match. Horden did well at turning the game into a scrappy, belligerent affair that negated Westoe of any clean ball, and free-flowing rugby soon became an ugly arm-wrestle.
One highlight was a solid debut performance from new signing Hamish White who is studying locally and should help alleviate availability issues in the front-row.
The two bonus points keeps them in fourth spot; however Westoe are now ten points behind the current league leaders.
Next week Westoe travel to Hartlepool Rovers who play a similar style to Horden and could pose comparable threats as today.