Westoe Development XV travelled to Hartlepool on what felt like the coldest day of the season yet, no front row replacements and a chance to make it 3 wins on the bounce.
Westoe started the game with the high intensity free flowing rugby which we have been so used to seeing this season putting the pressure on Hartlepool straight from the off with excellent running forcing the home side in to their 22. The forwards provided the platform to release the backs and from this fly-half Robin Hagan spotted the space behind the homes sides defensive line with a cross field kick which was unfortunately not gathered cleanly by winger Tom Younghusband and knocked on. Hartlepool continued to battle hard pushing the away side on to half way where the ball found its self back in to Westoe's possession, the ball went through the hands until reaching Hagan who again put boot to ball in to the oppositions corner where it was gathered by winger Younghusband who made amines for his earlier mistake and crashed over in the corner to make the score 0-5.
Westoe's attacking momentum continued with some strong running from centre Sam Hughes finding a gap in the homes defence only to be tackled close to the line. Westoe went through the phases working the ball from left to right increasing the pressure with every phase. The second try of the game came from No.5 Adam Sneller who seemed to be unmarked after receiving the pass and strolled over under the posts following some excellent work from the forward pack taking the score to 0-12 which was converted by Jake Arnold.
Hartlepool did not just roll over and accept the early tries and retaliated with strong forward play and keeping it tight and finally pushed themselves over to take the score to 7-12. Hartlepool ran in as many tries in as many minutes in exactly the same sort of fashion making the score 12-12.
With the half coming to a close Westoe found themselves on the front foot yet again with a great break from Hughes and what can only be described as outstanding interplay between 4-5 players running 45 meters before Hughes finished off his initial break taking the score to 12-19 which was converted by Hagan. With most players ready to catch their breath at the thought of half time another try was on the cards for Westoe with fullback Jake Arnold sprinting in to his full stride to cross the line just before half time taking the score to 12-24 but unable to convert his own effort.
H/T - 12-24
With the second half underway Westoe's young team was faced with a tale of two half's which is starting to become a regular occurrence. Westoe allowed Hartlepool to come back in to the game being dominated in the scrum, while also battling with the challenging referee who at times seemed like he had a vendetta against the young travelling side. With all this said Hartlepool started very well and played the referee to their advantage earning themselves a scrum in Westoe's 22 and after a few phases found themselves over the touchline to take the score to 19-24 which was converted.
With 15 minutes to play seen Westoe's captain Liam Jackson sin binned after numerous plenty against the side which gave the home side yet another opportunity.
With the full time whistle minutes away Westoe found themselves with a scrum in Hartlepool's 22. No 8 Paul Evans picked up the ball from the back of the scrum stepping the home sides fly-half only to draw the opposition fullback creating a passing opportunity for young Connor Palmer who crashed over the seal the victory and seeing Hagan convert the score taking the score to 19-31 with limited time left to play.
The kick off was taking quickly and gathered by prop Jon Gregg who used his experience to stay on his feet for as long as he could in order for the clock to tick over.
F/T - 19-31
This was a testing challenging for the young Westoe team who were sat in 3rd position prior to this game and are growing in confidence and ability every week. A massive thank you to Nathan Peel, Wayne Foster & Jon Gregg who played the full game due to travelling without a front row replacement and gave absolutely everything. Apologies for the lads that did not get a chance to show what they can do due to the slightest change could have cost us the game.
With competition rising throughout the ranks in Westoe in every position its safe to say that every shirt is up for grabs and can only be seen as another positive step forward for the club.