Westoe Continue with Good Run of Form
Westoe at Defensive Best
South Shields Westoe entertained Acklam on a sunny, but blustery day; a swirling strong wind that couldn’t make its mind up which way it wanted to blow.
Playing down the slope, the visitors started well with some strong and direct running, but were unable to breach a determined Westoe defence and kicked long, pinning the home side deep in their own half.
Westoe worked their way up the slope, Derek Worthington barging his way through the tackle and linking with returning fly-half, Andy Sutherland, who took a difficult low pass and fed out wide for Jake Arnold to score in the corner after seven minutes. 5-0
A poor restart allowed Acklam to mount an immediate comeback, winning a penalty and kicking to the corner. Clean ball at the line-out was delivered to fly-half Ashton and followed with deft interplay between himself and centre, Andrew Dunn, taking the lead after ten minutes. Converted 5-7
Westoe continued to pressure the visitors, who defended first phase well; however seemed to lose shape as the play progressed. Westoe were awarded a penalty and went to the corner. As the driving maul neared the line, Acklam collapsed it and playing with the advantage, Andy Sutherland put in the cross-kick for Jake Arnold to collect in traffic and touch down to retake the lead. Converted 12-7
At this point Acklam were still very much in the game and had several opportunities, only to see last passes being forced and overlaps missed.
With Westoe pinned on their line, Sam Gaff picked from the base and started the long journey up the Wood Terrace slope. Supporting drives from Ryan Lamb and Derek Worthington, followed by a Luke Moffett grubber kick gave Westoe another line-out, this time the drive succeeded allowing Alex Wylie to score. Converted 19-7
Acklam continued to pressure close in, but found a solid wall awaiting them, Westoe’s defence back to its best and not about to budge.
Westoe took the bonus point score with five minutes of the half to play. Acklam received a yellow card for not releasing and Westoe went to the corner again. With the drive stopped, Westoe went to the pick & goes, sucking the defence in and unleashing the backline. Andy Sutherland passed to Worthington and looped around to retake the ball and cross in the corner. Converted 26-7
The final play of the half saw a well-placed kick from Acklam’s Ashton and a good chase; however pressure from Arnold and Jamie Preston forced the handling error, saving a certain score on the whistle.
The visitors started strong again after the break and were pressing hard until a turnover ball was kicked long by Sam Seymour, with Arnold chasing and collecting; however the last pass was knocked on close to the line.
Westoe were awarded another penalty, which was taken quickly, Martin Bengston crossing for the score and pretty much sealing the victory after four minutes of the half. 31-7
Acklam never gave in and again created several scoring chances, but continued quick line-speed and defensive pressure led to some poor handling out wide and wasted opportunities.
Westoe continued to pin Acklam in their own 22m area and with the conditions making kicking difficult, forced the visitors into having to grind the ball up the slope.
Westoe secured a line-out and when Acklam chose not to compete, lock, John Younghusband secured the ball and powered over the line almost untouched; a common result against sides who stand off at the line and rapidly becoming JY’s signature scoring method. 36-7
With twenty minutes of the half played, Luke Moffett took a quick free-kick and passed wide to winger, Paul Evans. Evans pulled off a nifty inside step and found the perfect line through the retreating defence to score under the posts. Converted 43-7
With a quarter left to play, Westoe suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of the whistle, giving up five penalties in less than twenty minutes (Conceding only two in the previous 60) and struggled to cross the line until near the final whistle.
Ben Roberts attacked down the flank and chipped to the corner, chasing his kick, but the ball was held up over the line by Acklam.
Westoe’s ensuing scrum edged its way towards the line, but Sam Seymour spotted the space and went blind finding Jamie Preston in support to cross in the corner. 48-7
The final play of the day came after more intelligent kicking and support play, with Sam Seymour sniping through the defence to score against the posts and take Westoe to nine tries and >50 points. Converted, final score 55-7
This was a great team performance by the home side, continuing their winning streak and showing their potential to the full. Next Saturday Westoe will be able to test themselves with a fascinating encounter against league leaders Durham City.
Westoe claimed a narrow victory against Durham at home (29-26), but will need to be at their defensive best at Hollow Drift in a week’s time.
Acklam never gave up despite struggling to maintain their defensive structure over multiple plays and created some great chances and could see huge improvements if they can replicate the initial first phase defence. Plaudits to the three or four Colts in the side who will hopefully come away from the match with some positive lessons and experience.