No barnstorming finale for South Shields Westoe

Westoe captain Andy Kirton (foreground) and outgoing player/coach Graeme Smith, who played his last rugby match for the club.
Westoe captain Andy Kirton (foreground) and outgoing player/coach Graeme Smith, who played his last rugby match for the club.

Rugby Union

South Shields Westoe suffered Durham Cup final heartache when they were edged out 29-20 by Barnard Castle.

Westoe went into the final full of confidence, having claimed the league double over their DN1 rivals Barnard Castle.

As expected, the whistle brought some high-paced explosive rugby from the two teams who finished in third and fourth in the DN1, respectively.

The two huge packs smashed into each other, with some determined defences stopping players in their tracks.

Early runs from Ryan Lamb, Andrew Kirton, Sam Gaff and Joe McKenzie looked promising, but Castle’s defence held firm.

Westoe were penalised at the breakdown, allowing Castle to mount an attack from the line-out just five metres out.

Westoe defended well, but were again penalised, this time Castle opted for the scrum.

Holding back the first drive, the scrum was reset and Castle powered their way towards the try line.

A Westoe hand interfered with the ball and referee awarded a penalty try and Castle edged into a 7-0 lead.

A poorly thrown line-out was cleverly secured by Castle’s blind-side, who crossed over the line to extend their lead.

Fielding a long clearance kick, Jake Arnold sprinted the majority of the pitch before being brought down after a series of high tackles and recycling the ball.

A further high tackle was picked up and Westoe kicked for the corner.

A clean catch by Kirton, at the front of the line, saw Castle stand off.

Kirton, totally unopposed, turned and waltzed over the line to bring Westoe back into the match.

With Westoe on the ascendancy, Castle needed to defend well to keep Westoe out, holding them to a single penalty on the half-time whistle (8-14).

The second half started with Westoe in control. A combination of forward drives and some slick handling in the back-line kept the Westoe support alive.

A quick tap from a free-kick was spun wide to Paul Evans, almost making it across for the score in the corner.

The ensuing scrum was driven towards Castle’s line, with Sam Gaff picking from the base to cross the line, and with less than 30 minutes to play, there was only a single point separating the sides (13-14).

Despite gaining control, Westoe’s Achilles Heel struck immediately.

A poor restart gave Castle the ball, and after some intense pressure, they scored again through their hooker to further increase the lead.

Minutes later, Westoe were penalised again, this time leading to a yellow card and a Castle penalty (13-24).

The killer blow came with less than 10 minutes to play when Castle attacked from deep and touched down to score their fourth try of the day.

Westoe never gave up and scoring the last try of the game through coach Graeme Smith, who was playing his final game before hanging up his boots as the final score finished 29-20 to Barnard Castle.