South Shields Westoe knocked off the summit
South Shields Westoe relinquished top spot in the Durham & Northumberland 1 after they lost the top of the table clash at home to Northern.
Playing up the hill, top side Westoe found themselves immediately under the hammer as second placed Northern showed the commitment of a side looking to take over at the top.
Northern worked their way into the Westoe 22 and were awarded a scrum in front of the posts.
Westoe – fresh from a class with England and Falcons player Davy Wilson – attacked the first scrum a little too much, pushing early and giving away a penalty.
Northern took a quick tap and found Westoe napping to score the first converted try of the match.
Westoe put together a series of attacks up the slope, gradually forcing their way up-field to the visitors 22.
Northern managed a long kick, which was gathered and spun wide by full-back Luke Moffett, who found centre Ben Roberts.
Roberts ran through Northern’s defence and a quickly recycled ball saw Jamie Preston chipping the last defenders to touch down for Westoe’s first converted try of the day.
A strong period of attacking plays resulted in a line-out and a clean take was driven over the line, Sean Ramsay touching down for an unconverted try and the lead.
With Westoe on the up, Northern showed their mettle by disrupting the line-out, starving Westoe of attacking potential.
Under pressure at the scrum ,Northern’s deft interplay under the posts regained the lead.
With the half coming to a close, and with a penalty advantage, Northern showed why they are riding high when the fly-half chipped Westoe’s defence to end the half 10-21.
The second half saw Westoe stunned, when Northern took play 80m up-field evading eight tackles to score within a minute.
This was followed quickly with a penalty taking the score to 10-29, with Northern looking to take control of the game.
Down to 14 men after the new tackle regulations raised their head again, Westoe turned up the pressure with some slick play, forcing their way towards Northern’s line.
After a run of pick-and-goes and strong scrummage displays, captain, Andrew Kirton forced his way over for a converted try.
A moment of madness caught Westoe napping and a long kick was chased by the Northern winger, who caught the ball and touched down to extend Northern’s lead to 36-17.
Westoe responded immediately, the ball being spun across the pitch for Ben Roberts to give the home side a glimmer of hope, scoring a converted try and bonus point.
Despite their line-out misfiring, Westoe’s dominance came to the fore, out-playing the visitors in every department and giving the home crowd hope, fearing a repeat of the earlier comeback and defeat by Westoe.
With a yellow card for a tip tackle and Northern down to 14, the last 10 minutes were set up for a grand finale.
Westoe’s line-out finally seemed to click and a clean take by John Younghusband, was set up and trundled towards the line.
Playing the penalty advantage, Westoe drove down the slope and after a series of offences were awarded a penalty try and second yellow card and the Westoe faithful thought it may be their day after all.
It was a case of too little, too late though, as Westoe pressed for the win, Northern’s defence held firm and claimed a 36-31 victory and top spot.
Westoe’s only consolation another two losing bonus points.
Northern now take top spot from Westoe, who slipped into third due to a Barnard Castle win.