Stunning win for Westoe seals play-off clash against West Leeds

The players from both teams at the full-time whistle
The players from both teams at the full-time whistle

A spectacular, thrilling, last-gasp 37-34 win over rivals Barnard Castle saw Westoe progress to a promotion play-off this weekend.

Westoe opened the scoring with a penalty on 12 minutes and were then shocked by two quick tries from the home side to trail 12-3.

Barnie went further ahead after 25 minutes, when Westoe unusually failed to halt a driving maul from five metres out.

Any further progress for the home side was slowed by some ferocious tackling, Jamie Preston almost cutting his opposite number in half on one occasion.

With the half coming to a close, Westoe opted for a scrum-down and danced in from 10 metres; Sam Gaff touching down.

The final play of the half saw Westoe attack again, this time from a line-out. John Younghusband was denied but Westoe kept the ball close and drives from Raymie Elliott, Luke Moffett and Ryan Lamb sucked in the defence allowing the slightest of gaps for Andy Kirton to force his way over, ending the half 19-15, with everything to play for.

From the restart Westoe continued their forward dominance and Derek Worthington snaked and barged his way through for a spectacular try under the posts, giving Westoe the lead.

A series of close picks from Sean Ramsay, Dom Connolly and Sam Gaff were rewarded when Raymie Elliott took route one over the remaining defenders to increase the lead to 27-19.

Barnie showed why they are such a force in the league when they upped the tempo and their rapid back-line strung together some slick passing putting their winger in the corner, keeping the game desperately close and entertaining for the large crowd.

Into the last quarter and yet another switch in momentum saw Westoe’s Michael Potts break free and offload to centre Ben Roberts whose pace outstripped his opponents to score, taking the lead to 32-24.

It was Barnie’s turn again to pressurise, throwing everything at Westoe, who dug in to prevent any comeback. Westoe, having the best defence stats in the league, stopped wave after wave of determined attackers.

Camped on their own line, the inevitable yellow card appeared for not releasing the player, followed quickly by a second for another offence at the ruck, with Westoe down to 13 men with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.

Barnie’s relentless attacks finally paid off with a well-spotted gap was exploited with a chip-kick, bringing the home side within one point.

And the travelling support were stunned when a minute later Barnie retook the lead with a drop-goal to lead 34-32 and seem on course for the victory and play-off spot.

With supporters from both sides thinking the game over, Westoe’s young team showed how much they’ve developed this year with a last gasp attack.

With the clock against them it looked like it was too late, until Dom Connolly split the defence, creating a gap for Michael Booth who dived across the line to secure the win and the play-off spot next week against Yorkshire side West Leeds.

With cricket being played at Wood Terrace, the match will have to be transferred to Harton’s 3G pitch.