Westoe Fell Gateshead
By dave barnes
Strong finish from Home Side
South Shields Westoe entertained local friends, Gateshead at Wood Terrace, Saturday. After last week’s solid performance against Old Rishworthians in the cup, Westoe started the favourites, however Gateshead would not let them have all their own way.
Gateshead started strong and kept good possession; however they were met by a sturdy and organised defence that kept them pinned deep in their own half. That was, until a jinking run from fly-half Foster broke the line and with support from centre, Tate, looked like crossing for the first score.
Westoe’s scramble defence held firm and despite conceding the penalty prevented the try. Gateshead opted for the posts and took an early lead after six minutes. 0-3
Straight from the restart, Westoe earned a penalty of their own for a side entry and Moffett converted to even the score. 3-3
At this stage, Westoe appeared to have the edge, but couldn’t breach the determined visitors. They created several chances out wide, but seemed unable to spot the unmarked men, missing out on some simple run-ins.
The first try came after 20 minutes, Derek Worthington forcing his way through traffic and offloading to Paul Evans, who was eventually felled close to the line. Quick recycled ball went to Alex Wylie who sped under the posts for a converted try and the lead. 10-3
The sides exchanged penalties as both defences seemed determined to prevent the constant attacks from their opponents leaving the score close with five minutes of the half to play. 13-6
Westoe struck next with a clean break from Sam Seymour, his pass to support being intentionally knocked on. West kicked the penalty to the corner, secured safe front ball at the line and drove over into the corner, Ryan Lamb coming up with the ball. 18-6
Gateshead were not particularly fazed at this point and unleashed a frantic attack from the restart and just as it looked like they would end the half with the score, Joe McKenzie stripped the ball in the tackle and found Jamie Preston with space enough to break free and almost go all the way, a hammer blow to the visitors chances.
Gateshead fell back making the saving tackle, but conceded the penalty, giving Westoe another kick to the corner followed by another catch, drive and score, fittingly touched down by McKenzie who first won the ball. Converted 25-6 HT
In a scrappy match, the two teams struggled to maintain much consistency, the London exchange referee often erring on the strict side and hindering any momentum. Gateshead received a yellow card after twelve minutes, for not retreating ten following a side entry penalty, and Westoe took full advantage, ultimately securing the win.
With Gateshead’s hooker off the field, Westoe opted for the scrum and as it was collapsed just short of the line, spun the ball wide to Paul Evans, who finished the move, scoring in the corner for the bonus point try. 30-6
Gateshead came back one last time with a simple training field score. A solid scrum and quick transfer of the ball along the line gave an easy run-in for winger Anderson, keeping a glimmer of hope for the visitors. Converted 30-13
Westoe controlled the rest of the match, with Gateshead still competing, but looking a little weary as the game progressed. Westoe made good ground with drives from Ryan Lamb and Louis Kellett, and were stopped short several times by brave defence.
Alex Wylie broke free with ten minutes to play, offloading to Ryan Lamb who made it across the line but was held up by the visitors defence.
Recycling the ball saw what at first appeared to be the score of the year, with Andy Sutherland offloading to Andy Kirton and taking the return pass to feed Martin Bengston, only to have the referee pull them back for the penalty advantage.
Another penalty and Westoe went back to the trusted formulae – Kick to touch, clean take and touch down. Joe McKenzie scoring his second and Westoe’s fifth of the day. 35-13
The game ended with a sixth try for Westoe, Andy Sutherland providing the nifty inside pass to Derek Worthington, who made fifty metres before handing on to Sam Seymour who finished the win in style under the posts. Converted 42-13 FT
Another good win for Westoe who stuck to the job and despite Gateshead making things tough early on, deserved the full five points. The pivotal moment was the end of the first half when determined defence turned into attacking opportunity being rewarded by the score and momentum shift.
Gateshead competed well, especially in the first half, but struggled at times with penetration, playing a fairly flat attack which made it easy for Westoe’s quick line speed to defend.
Next week sees Westoe face Novocastrians in an intriguing double header for both league status and progression in the Intermediate National Cup.
Westoe will need to make sure they don’t waste any scoring opportunities and ensure their solid defence remains on top form, especially against a quality Novos back-line who can cause threats from all areas of the pitch.