Jones hails super first-half show as Maroons earn fine Shields win

The in-form Gregson looks to kick the ball downfield
The in-form Gregson looks to kick the ball downfield

Whitby Maroons manager Matt Jones was delighted as his side turned on the style to start 2017 with a superb 42-32 win at North Shields.

Jones said:“That’s the best I’ve seen us play for some time in the first half, and the whole team were excellent.

“However, the first 20 minutes or so of the second period were the complete opposite and lessons need to be learned. The result shows we are competing well in this league and we need to continue to improve.”

The game was still in its infancy when the strong-running Jack Braithwaite powered over to capitalise on his team’s dominance.

Stu Gregson’s excellent conversion was followed by a sweetly-struck kick in the form of a penalty, to give the visitors a 10-point lead early on.

The hosts then began to get back into the game which accumulated in a penalty opportunity in which their fly-half neatly slotted over.

However, it was Whitby who went back on the attack after the quick-thinking Connor Clennan booted a loose ball down the field for full-back Gregson to chase down and to go over in the corner for a great score.

The next period of the game saw Whitby come under some pressure.

With seemingly a glorious opportunity for Shields to score, a retreating Mitchell Cannon caught the ball clearly offside, but the referee awarded only a penalty, which was converted, and a yellow card for a blameless Dan Marsay.

Cannon scored the next try when, after a Whitby line-out, he was at the back of a catch- and-drive move to touch the ball down. Again, the in-form Gregson kicked the conversion followed by a penalty.

The final five minutes of the half saw Whitby stamp their authority on the game with Jack Braithwaite going over for his second of the afternoon followed by Luke Brown.

After a great and forceful run by the lock, in which he put down several tackle attempts by the opposition, to score a brilliant try on his comeback after injury.

With Gregson adding to his tally with a conversion this made the score 37-6 to the Maroons at half-time.

With the whistle going for the second half the inevitable backlash saw a lot of pressure put on the Whitby defence.

With only a few minutes on the clock, the hosts had scored two converted tries to get themselves back in contention for the points on offer.

Captain Gordon Bland, along with sibling David, were tackling well along with James Newton and man of the match Richard Hare, which was allowing Sam Webster kick for territory and calm down the proceedings.

However, it was the home side who scored another converted try to put themselves only 10 points behind.

Whitby’s Bruce Reed, Jannie Jacobs and Guy Taylor made valuable metres in getting their team up the field to try and secure the game.

This did come in the form of the third try for Braithwaite powering over the line to make the game safe for Whitby.

The last play of the game saw Shields grab a fourth try to secure a losing bonus point.