Lookers-sponsored South Shields Westoe were left frustrated by a 15-15 draw at struggling Redcar to drop to fifth in the Durham and Northumberland One table.
Westoe must now start targeting the top sides for any chance of promotion this season. They host Horden at Wood Terrace next Saturday in a game they need to control from the start and retain possession and concentration throughout.
Saturday’s game was decided by defence and bad decisions. Looking in control from the start, Westoe found a side who were not about to bow down to league status.
Westoe’s customary launch-pad of the scrum didn’t fire as normal. With juggernauts Raymie Elliott and Rob Scorer unavailable, they were dealt another blow when they lost hooker James Sant.
Westoe were on the scoreboard first after a well taken line-out was driven over the home side’s line, for Graeme Smith to touch down after 30 minutes. Looking on the up, Westoe increased their lead in customary fashion. Winning the ball against the head, Sam Gaff picked from the base of the scrum to feed Daniel Irving on the halfway line. Irving showed pace and vision to out-sprint the Redcar defence to score in the corner.
The second half started well for Westoe, with Michael Potts breaking the sturdy Redcar defence, with Zach Clark in support. Clark drew in three defenders and offloaded to Joe McKenzie who finished the job, cutting back inside to increase the lead to 15-0.
But Westoe fell foul to bad habits from this point on. Seemingly asleep after their score, they lost any concentration and intensity which allowed Redcar to build of some steam, finished by Duddles, hitting the line fast and hard, to ease through Westoe’s defensive line.
Then, after pouncing on loose ball, Redcar set up an attack down the line and into Westoe’s 22. Again, simple movement along the line saw the ball reach full-back, Addison, with a simple two-on one to take the score to 15-12 with 15 minutes left to play.
Irving pulled off a spectacular try-saving tackle to deny Redcar the lead but with 10 minutes left to play the home side forced a penalty and levelled the scores.
The final ten found Westoe camped firmly on Redcar’s line looking for both the win and the four-try bonus; however a combination of forced passes and strong Redcar defence held them out.
Meanwhile, the West Nautical Development team beat Bishop Auckland 62-17 in their Candy League fixture.