Stunning win over leaders Durham leaves Westoe in winter wonderland

Sam Gaff crashes over against Durham City. Pics: Phil Haswell.
Sam Gaff crashes over against Durham City. Pics: Phil Haswell.

Westoe signed off for the winter break with a stunning 50-27 win over league leaders Durham City to reignite their promotion hopes.

City had lost just once all season, but buoyed by their win over Barnard Castle, the Lookers-sponsored side produced another great performance after the game was switched to Harton School’s 3G surface.

Zach Clarke goes over for a try.

Zach Clarke goes over for a try.

Westoe exploded from the kick-off and great play from Andrew Kirton, Raymie Elliott and fly-half Michael Potts ended with Elliott touching down in the corner.

The early score sparked the match into actionand there was an early yellow card for Joe McKenzie.

Durham responded well and after a prolonged period of pressure the ball was sent along the line for fly-half Armstrong to cross after 10 minutes to level the scores before they went ahead through a penalty.

In an end-to-end match, it was Westoe who struck next, with centre Zach Clarke, aided by winger Ben Roberts, able to touch down under the posts.

Durham showed why they are league leaders, pressurising Westoe immediately from the restart and Dent, who crossed to see the lead change yet again at 15-12.

Within minutes Westoe were back in control as McKenzie, back on the field, wove his way through the defence close to the sticks.

With the half-time whistle beckoning, Westoe went to the line-out for one last push. Gathered and set well, the ensuing maul was stopped dead by a determined City defence. A series of pick and goes from McKenzie, Sean Ramsay and Sam Gaff, sucked in the City defence and when spun, replacement fly-half Jordan Carey found the gap to increase the lead and gain the four-try bonus point and a half-time lead of 26-15.

Westoe came out the blocks quickly for the second half and after some solid City defence, Sam Gaff picked from the base of a scrum five yards out and crossed untouched to extend the lead.

City pulled a try back to make it 33-20 before Luke Moffett crashed over for Westoe to put them in control.

Never-say-die City took the next score after almost 20 minutes of defensive sets for both sides, keeping their hopes alive with less than five minutes to play.

But in a match where the entire team shone, it was the back-row that finished off a great day. Ramsay hit the ruck and turned over ball for McKenzie who again made the yardage and demolished a now tiring City defence. Support came in the form of Gaff who finished the job with only two minutes left to play, making it 45-27.

Westoe finished the day off with one last score. Slick passing found Clarke who broke the line, slipped the pass to Louis Hagan out wide who finished in spectacular form with a neat touchdown as the defence tried to force him into touch.

With performances like this, Westoe have shown they should be fighting for the promotion spots again this season. Gone are the early jitters and over-complicated plays; replaced with direct and determined running plus speedy and safe passing.