Billingham leave Westoe on the verge

SOLE TRY ... Raymie Elliott goes over for Westoe. Pic: PHIL HASWELL
SOLE TRY ... Raymie Elliott goes over for Westoe. Pic: PHIL HASWELL

WESTOE’S hopes of staying in National League Three North took a further knock thanks to a 25-5 loss to Billingham at Wood Terrace on Saturday afternoon.

The first half saw Westoe dominate proceedings, cross the whitewash three times, and create a number of clear-cut chances that they couldn’t quite put away.

Of those three trips across the Billingham line only one resulted in a try, the two others were contentiously ruled out by the referee for being held up by a Billingham defender.

On his return from an extensive period on the sidelines Raymie Elliott was the scorer of Westoe’s sole first-half try when he finished off a rolling maul to give them a 5-0 lead at the break.

The second half saw Billingham come back into the game, as three weeks without a match began to tell on the fitness of the team in blue.

As the second half wore on Billingham ran in three tries with the hosts unable to get anything in reply.

Westoe coach Hadyn Richards said: “We stuck to the structure and the patterns which we constructed at training in the first half.

“All the lineouts were won, all the scrums were won, three or four won against the head also, which proved our forward dominance.

“We went in to half-time full of confidence, and that’s where it folded for us.”

Westoe’s prospects of avoiding relegation look bleaker by the second, and while they can still mathematically avoid the drop, it will take a huge effort to close the widening gap to safety.

Richards said: “We’re disappointed with how it went second half but we’ve still got to remain positive in our thoughts.

“Our training methods ultimately now revolve around next season, it’s probably 99.9 percent now that we are relegated, plus we’re going to lose two or three players until the end of the season.

“It’s going to be a hard fought slog until the end of the season, but we’re going to try and let the guys have fun and start enjoying their rugby again, because I think they’ve been missing that.”

Despite the negativity of relegation fears there are positive signs for the future at Westoe, whatever league they end up in next year.

Players being called into the first team are regularly holding their own at the higher level, particularly the colts, and Richards added: “The players that stood out were the usual suspects, Ramie Elliot at prop, Joe McKenzie in the back row and Chris Judson at scrum half, so three players there who have been the rocks throughout the season.

“We had, on a first team debut, Peally, he actually won two scrums on his own ball and one against the head. So he’s had a good game and definitely one for the future.”

Westoe now face a very tough couple of weeks against promotion chasers Sandal and Firwood Waterloo, if they can’t pick up points and results go against them it is very possible that their survival will hang on their trip to Wirral in the first week of March.