A young Lookers-sponsored Westoe side opened the season with a hard-fought match against an experienced Barnard Castle side, slipping to a heartbreaking late defeat.
Departing from its recent flirtation with semi-professional status, the current Westoe squad boasts 17 homegrown players.
Bolstered by ex-Westoe man Graeme Smith as new coach and with a welcome return of Dom Connolly, Marl Olugbode and Joe McKenzie, the team are aiming to consolidate its position and aim for promotion from Durham & Northumberland 1.
The side showed early promise, dominating their opposition for the opening 10 minutes of play. Despite their dominance, Castle took an early lead with a well taken 80metre try from their talented full-back to open the scoring and lead 5-0.
More pressure from the Westoe pack saw the Castle team frequently infringing at the ruck to allow Luke Moffatt to take the lead after a couple of quick penalties. Westoe continued to attack throughout the first half, with Castle showing some experienced and solid defence, refusing to allow the Westoe side to cross their line.
The half finished with a Castle penalty, taking the score to 8-6.
The second half continued in a similar vein with the Westoe pack dominant in the scrum and contesting in some savage ruck-play retaining the lion’s share of possession.
Unfortunately the side struggled to get the ball to speedy wingers Reeder and Roberts and despite an almost constant barrage of the Castle line, the defence stood firm and denied Westoe a try.
Things were looking good after three Moffatt penalties took Westoe to a 12-11 lead with only five minutes remaining.
This looked like being a great win for the side; however with only a few minutes remaining, after what appeared to be a knock-on by Castle, the majority of both teams stopped play, only for the Castle full-back to once again show his experience in scooping up the ball and running unhindered under the posts to clinch an 18-12 win.
A valuable lesson in playing the whistle, this was a savage blow to a solid, promising performance.
Overall, this was a great performance from the young Westoe side, showing things to come for the season.