South Shields Westoe failed to capitalise on a measured and tactical first half to eventually lose to Horden and Peterlee 17-12 in the DN1 clash.
Westoe will need to learn a valuable lesson from this defeat if they intend to retain their top spot in the league.
Playing up the hill, Westoe displayed why they are currently league leaders.
Both sides opted for an early tactical kicking game, Westoe remaining patient until an opportunity arose with Jake Arnold spotting the slightest of gaps and speeding up the right to score in the corner after only four minutes.
It was only a matter of minutes later when they scored their second try of the day when Grant Parkin fed Michael Potts, who in turn off loaded to Luke Moffett for the try.
With confidence high, Westoe eased off the tempo which allowed a determined Horden side to hit back early.
A strong scrummage led to inter-passing between both forwards and backs to break the Westoe defence and score under the posts.
With three tries in 10 minutes it was looking to be a high-scoring open match.
At the start of the second half, Horden’s pack were dominant in the scrum and the unusual sight of a Westoe pack retreating made it difficult to unleash any meaningful back-play.
Westoe opting instead for a tactical kicking game to limit any onslaught down the famous Westoe slope.
With Westoe now playing down the slope, almost everyone at Wood Terrace expected the home side to run away with the game.
Everyone that is except the Horden pack, who drew Westoe into an arm-wrestle of a match as the surface quickly cut up.
The tactical kicking of the first half which would have pinned Horden in their own half seemed to disappear, with the Westoe backs regularly being shunted sideways making any attack easy to defend.
Horden closed the gap with a penalty five minutes into the half and the game was on.
Horden’s confidence and commitment came to the fore, every decision and tackle mattered and this showed in what was the final score of the match.
Horden’s outside centre took an excellent running line to break the initial line and following a scramble defence.
Quick recycling of the ball saw them under the posts and take the lead for the first time with only fifteen minutes left to play.
The final 15 minutes saw Westoe up their game, with Kirton and Ramsay leading the way in a last gasp attempt to retake the lead.
After regaining the upper hand, they were not able to capitalise and a possible lack of tactical awareness led to the loss.
Despite the loss, Westoe did manage to gain a losing bonus point.
Westoe’s young side remain league leaders and despite defeat, should still be in the running for the top automatic promotion place.
They will have gained some valuable experience, with Horden demonstrating the importance of heart and commitment.