Stockton too Strong for Westoe Side
South Shields Westoe travelled to Stockton, looking to get back into winning ways after last week’s defeat to West Hartlepool.
A new-look team took to the field as Westoe were faced with a huge injury list, also leading to the cancellation of the development side due to face Billingham.
Despite eleven changes to the side, Westoe started well against a solid, well-drilled Stockton outfit.
The game started as a balanced affair, with Stockton edging the early forward play and Westoe seemingly the stronger in the backs. Early forays from Derek Worthington and Paul Evans caused the home side some concerns; however they defended well keeping Westoe out.
The first score took nineteen minutes, with Westoe having their best attacking period so far, a loose pass was scooped up by Stockton’s Jones, who fed winger Crozier for an 80m dash to touch down. 7-0
Stockton’s pack were slowly building momentum and solid scrummaging providing clean ball for their back-line, whilst Westoe struggled to gain any quick ball to gain impetus.
Stockton increased their lead after 27 minutes, with a five metre scrum, driven over Westoe’s line for Scott Powell to touch down. 12-0
In a tight game, the difference was Stockton’s dominance in the scrum, with Westoe competing well in all other areas. With the half ending, Stockton further increased their lead when hooker, Conway, drove over from a line-out. 19-0
Stockton started the second half with another two quick scores from Jones and Phinn, taking the score to 31-0
Things appeared to be getting worse, when Westoe lost their second prop to injury, Ryan Lamb taking a cut to the head, and were forced to drop to 14 men and go to uncontested scrums. Bizarrely though, despite dropping to 14, the nullified Stockton pack gave Westoe clean, fast ball to work with for the first time, allowing their speedy backs to show their skills.
Stockton scored two more tries in the half, with Westoe running in four tries in just over twenty minutes to secure the bonus point.
Ross Macauley showed excellent skills to pick up his hat-trick and showing great flair in both attack and defence, and his return to the team is a welcome sight. Jamie Preston took the honours for the other score, after Derek Worthington picked up loose ball and fed Jamie for the touchdown.
Fitting to note that Westoe have now been on both ends of the uncontested scrum scenario, after West Hartlepool were yellow carded last week. On both occasions the non-offending side came off the worse as forward domination and the ability to tie players in was lost, allowing the offending team to quickly set defensive lines and also allowed for clean quick ball.
I believe this is an area that the RFU needs to address as the uncontested scrum removes much of the momentum and pattern of the sport and does nothing to increase the entertainment value, both on and off the pitch.
The final score was 43-26 to Stockton who were well-deserving of the win.
Westoe stuck to their jobs well and despite further additions to their current injuries woe, should be pleased with the players who stepped up. Individually, players didn’t look out of place; however the loss of their entire front-row and some bulk in the back-five severely hampered the normal go-forward of the team.
Long-term this will benefit Westoe, with many fringe players gaining valuable experience and knocking on the door for regular inclusion within the side. The squad will only become better and continuity improve.
Next week Westoe welcome Ponteland to Wood Terrace and will be looking to return to winning ways.