WHITBY Maroons travelled to Newton Aycliffe on Saturday to continue their promotion quest,
once again, the blight of late cry-offs for away games forced a squad reshuffle with Tristan Pottas, Matt Jones, Andy Watson and veteran Mick Latus coming in for season debuts.
The game had an explosive start with rejuvenated back rower Nick Beaumont charging down a home clearance and following up to score in the corner.
Christian Pollock added an excellent conversion as the Maroons jumped to a deserved 7-0 lead.
However, there was a price to pay for the much reorganisation needed by Whitby prior to the game and the good work was undone when defensive naivety in the backs let Newton Aycliffe in for a soft try to level the scores.
Aided by some astute tactical play by half backs Gordon Bland and Steve Allen, Whitby were dominating the game and they added another five pointer
when the hungry Beaumont, playing some of his best rugby for some time, held off three defenders for a fine solo score.
Once again, the Maroons’ defence imploded and despite the hint of a knock-on in the build-up, Newton Aycliffe again went over for a converted score to
take the lead.
The two sides then exchanged penalties which meant Whitby turned round 17-15 in arrears.
With too much bad possession passed on and some ragged passing undermining any attacks, the scoreline was a true reflection of the game.
Now facing the slope and with a half-time ear bashing ringing in their ears, Whitby started to take better options and gradually wore the home side down.
Matt Jones and Mick Latus were introduced for the second half and the latter made an immediate impact in doing what had been needed all afternoon,
which was direct determined running providing the forwards with a target in front of them.
From one of his strong bursts the platform was laid for the backs to at last to click, with good hands sending flying winger Guy Taylor in at the corner.
Now in control of the match, the Whitby side eased away thanks to a superb goal kicking display by classy full back Christian Pollock who added four penalties and a conversion in the last 30 minutes.
With too many changes due to unavailablity, it made a hard game even tougher but the guys who came in played excellent.
In the forwards the alternating back row of Andrew Watson, Nick Beaumont, Tristan Pottas and Andy Grady were the stand-outs, with Gordon Bland and Steve Allen controlling difficult situations well at half back.
Disappointing aspects of this display were the poor defence of the backs and an inability to take the right option in attack when under pressure.
If the Maroons want to take the step up and challenge for the title they need to recognise good ball from bad and be prepared to have patience, recycle possession and rebuild if nothing is on.
Overall a good win leaves the Maroons sitting just behind the two promotion favourites in third place.
Whitby Gazette man of the match: Christian Pollock - dead eye goal-kicking performance under pressure allied to several searing breaks.
Newton Aycliffe 17 Whitby Maroons 32