South Shields Westoe dealt Durham City’s title charge a massive blow with a stunning 29-26 victory.
With Durham unbeaten so far this season and Westoe starting to perform to their best, this game was always set to be a close run affair.
Westoe exploded into action from the first whistle when Luke Moffett evaded the numerous defenders to put Joe McKenzie over after only two minutes.
Minutes later, they came close to score number two when another driving maul gave the platform for Michael Booth to chip ahead, the chasing McKenzie and Gaff just mishandling the ball over the line.
With a big set of backs, City played some direct powerful rugby and coupled with some fragile defending, soon equalised when Metcalfe powered his way over the line.
A quick ball was spun wide and the City side played the phases, gaining yardage in tackle and closing on Westoe’s line.
Twenty minutes in and City took the lead with Metcalfe’s second of the day with a wide touch-down.
Westoe’s set-piece provided the next score, another clean take in the line set up their second 30 metre drive, cleverly collapsed on the line, with recycled ball to Joe McKenzie, finding his way through traffic for his second and the equaliser.
With five minutes left in the half, Westoe’s scrum was again penalised giving City good territory.
City spun the ball wide right sucking in the defence and creating space, they reversed the direction to find Metcalfe again, crossing for his third to retake the lead.
Some great support work from the Westoe pack allowed John Younghusband to drive over from close quarters to bring the score within two points, ending the half, 17-19.
The half started with not much separating two good sides. Strong running and big hits came from both teams and it took 18 minutes before the next score.
After a frenetic third quarter, City appeared to be tiring and Westoe bulldozed their way over with a series of drives from Bengston, Elliott and Ramsay, and finally Ryan Lamb crashing over for the bonus score and the lead.
Westoe increased the lead to 10 points with 15 left to play. Another catch and drive from 15m out marched towards the line.
With good defence slowing the advance, Joe McKenzie joined his forwards to help drive the last couple of metres, touching down for his hat-trick.
City attacked straight from the restart and Westoe found themselves down to 14 after Chris Judson was yellow carded for offside.
City were not about to go home empty handed and went all out for the late victory.
Westoe found themselves again on the wrong end of the referee’s whistle and City piled on the pressure.
With only a few minutes remaining their pressure paid off, centre Dominick taking route one to the line to give them the chance of a late victory, or at least a couple of bonus points.
City came close to the victory after pressurising out wide, spotting a half-gap, their winger cut back infield, only to be swallowed up by a retreating, yet determined defence.
Westoe managed to control the remaining possession and earn a huge victory against formidable opponents.
Westoe remain in fourth spot and Durham remain in second, with now only Northern unbeaten in the DN1 league.
Next week sees Westoe travel to Gateshead in a game they need to win to maintain pressure on the sides above them.