WESTOE head into the Christmas break on the back of a hard-fought 20-20 draw with fellow strugglers Morley – and coach Dave Haswell has stressed the importance of continuing their improvement in 2015.
Gary Andrews scored twice and Sam Gaff once as the JML-sponsored side picked up where they had left off against Rossendale and Cleckheaton.
Those results saw Westoe pick up six points against two of the top teams in the division and with two more points secured against Morley, Haswell knows his side are moving in the right direction.
He said: “I think a draw was the fair result. On some days we probably would have done enough to win but trailing by five with 10 minutes to go you’ll take the draw.
“The important thing is we didn’t lose. We’ve done really well over the last three weeks and this is another step forward.
“We’ve got a young bunch here and they are learning to play rugby at this level. It was never going to be an overnight fix but we’re getting there.
“We’ve changed the system slightly and the lads are buying into it and working hard.
“It’s important that we don’t let things slide. We’ll give them some time off over Christmas but we can’t afford to lose momentum. If we can hit the ground running in the new year we can continue our improvement.”
Westoe were able to name their strongest possible side for the first time in weeks. Back came Andy Perry, Sam Hughes and Matthew Mellish and it paid instant dividends with the home side instantly on the front foot, scoring the opening three points.
Mellish had another kick for posts which sailed just to the left of the uprights and you felt it was only a matter of time before Westoe stretched their lead.
However it was Morley with their first attack that opened the scoring through Karl Bradshaw and on their second venture forward, Brad Marshall made it 12-3.
Despite this it remained Westoe who were dominating the possession and territory stats. Twice they turned down kickable penalties to go for five and it their persistence eventually paid off when Andrews finished off after the forwards had won a scrum against the head.
Andrews would finish off a fine backs move to put Westoe into a 15-12 half-time lead but anyone who thought the game was over was wrong.
With 61 minutes on the clock Morley led 20-15, the exceptional Dante van der Merwe scoring a sensational individual effort from inside his own 22 before the full-back kicked a penalty.
That penalty came after Westoe’s Hughes had been yellow carded for slowing the ball down at a ruck and you felt it would be a pivotal moment. It was.
But it was 14-man Westoe who seized the initiative and after a superb spell of pressure involving two catch and drives from a lineout, one of which saw Haydn Richards lose his shirt, Gaff powered over from close range to level the scores.
Richards himself almost sent the Wood Terrace faithful into rapture with a break from halfway on the last play but that came to nought and both teams went off happy with the draw.
The result sees Westoe remain second from bottom, four points behind Wirral and six points adrift of Morley and safety.