Injuries and absences costly for Maroons

Ryton outjump Maroons at a lineout'picture: Brian Murfield
Ryton outjump Maroons at a lineout'picture: Brian Murfield
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Whitby made the long trip to bottom of the table Prudhoe and Stocksfield on a windy Saturday afternoon.

The Whitby squad faced numerous alterations due to injuries still keeping Matt Russell and Andy Grady on the side-lines and various players being unavailable to play due to other commitments.

The front five alone was forced into making four changes from the starting line-up last time out against North Shields with Bruce Reed, James Gildroy, Luke Brown and Dan Marsay stepping in for absentees.

The bench included young Barney Fountain who has been impressing in the second team and the return of Matt Jones who has had an injury-plagued season.

The game started with Whitby playing the better rugby and having most of the ball.

The wind and slope that both teams had to contend with was always going to influence proceedings and with the home team having the advantage in the first half it was inevitable Whitby would face some pressure.

The first test came after 10 minutes when the Prudhoe fly half cleared the ball behind his own tryline into touch, just 10m short of the Whitby line.

The ensuing line-out witnessed the more aggressive pack on the day, pushing the ball over the line to take the lead. For the rest of the first half, Whitby handled the conditions well and caused problems for the hosts.

Prop James Gildroy standing out with some powerful running and being utilised with full effectiveness by captain Steve Allen. The Prudhoe defence were at times camped on their own try ine, but defended well and stood up to whatever Whitby threw at them.

The last play of the first half was a disaster for Whitby, when another massive clearance from the Prudhoe number 10 saw retreating full back Roberts touch the ball.

With the ball being carried by the wind and slope, fast winger Phil Stentiford chased the ball down but inadvertently let the ball roll out when not realising his team-mate had already made contact with the ball. This resulted in a Prudhoe scrum 5m out.

The Whitby pack found it hard to keep the more aggressive pack at bay and with the scrum being collapsed three times by Whitby, the referee rightly awarded the obligatory penalty try under the posts, with the added conversion making it Prudhoe 12 Whitby 0 at half-time.

The introduction of Phil Coverdale added some much-needed aggression and forward running that was sorely needed by his team.

The second half started with Whitby using the wind well and venturing straight onto the attack. James Gildroy again was at the centre of the action with powerful aggressive running and found himself close to the tryline on a couple of occasions only to be halted by last-gasp tackles.

Whitby broke through shortly afterwards with flanker Andrew Watson breaking through the defence line to touch down, with Roberts making the conversion this put Whitby just five points behind with half an hour left.

Whitby seemed to switch off for the next 15 minutes and invited pressure on themselves. The gift of giving away of 10m for wrongly speaking to the referee was to cost Whitby the crucial next points.

The penalty concluded with the influential Prudhoe fly half crashing through the Whitby defence to put his team further ahead.

The last 20 minutes saw Whitby trying to get through the Prudhoe defence but were held up over the tryline on several occasions, with powerhouse Gildroy being used as a battering ram.

With James Newton and Aaron Jones having to leave the field with leg injuries, the visitors were caused further problems with having to reshuffle. Some bad decision-making by the Whitby backs were also making things more difficult to find a way through.

Whitby gave it everything they had but it was not meant to be with the final score 19-7.

Man of the match: James Gildroy – led by example with showing a good controlled level of aggression and putting his body on the line when needed.

This was a game that Whitby should have won.

Coach Darryl Grason said: “A lack of aggression in the forwards, players being unavailable and lack of discipline cost us dear today.

“Phil Coverdale and James Gildroy were the positives, with leading the way with good aggression at the breakdown and powerful running.”

“Three visits to our 22 witnessed three tries for the home side and our full back didn’t have to make a tackle all afternoon.”

This fixture concluded a mixed year for Whitby, with the excellent end to last season and winning promotion, to a struggle in the first half of the new campaign.

Whitby return to action on January 4, when they face promotion chasing Redcar at the Showfield, kick-off 2.15pm.

The club wishes everyone a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.