Maroons go top after Bay success

Luke Brown in action for Whitby RUFC during Saturday's victory over Whitley Back Rockcliff. Pictures: Jenny Brown
Luke Brown in action for Whitby RUFC during Saturday's victory over Whitley Back Rockcliff. Pictures: Jenny Brown
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Whitby RUFC made it two wins in as many games in Durham & Northumberland Division Two with a home triumph over Whitley Bay Rockcliff.

The Maroons moved to the top of the league table in the process, much to the delight of team manager Matt Jones.

John Hatton looks to escape a pair of Rockcliff tacklers

John Hatton looks to escape a pair of Rockcliff tacklers

“I can’t remember the last time we had a positive result against this good side, and to be top of the league after two hard games is fantastic,” he said.

“The effort and attitude on display were excellent. There is a vibe throughout the squad which will be utilised to keep them working hard and pushing on.”

Jones welcomed back David Bland into the squad but named an unchanged starting line-up from the side that overcame Ashington last time out.

A perfect afternoon for Whitby’s free-flowing rugby was the back drop for an entertaining spectacle, and the hosts began the game on the front foot.

Mitch Cannon takes the game to Whitley Bay

Mitch Cannon takes the game to Whitley Bay

They took the lead courtesy of the ever-reliable boot of Stuart Gregson, the full-back slotting over an early penalty chance.

This seemed to stir the experienced Rockcliff side into life and their powerful number eight began to see plenty of the ball.

With pressure growing on the home defence, the visitors were rewarded for their efforts when the ball was sprayed out wide for their winger to go over in the corner.

The conversion was missed, but the Bay kicker soon redeemed himself by adding three points with a penalty soon after, giving his side an 8-3 advantage.

The Maroons compete for possession at the breakdown

The Maroons compete for possession at the breakdown

However, the spirit of this young Whitby side soon shone through and a neat pre-rehearsed move paid off when scrum-half Jannie Jacobs sent a kick down the line from the back of a scrum for Gregson to race through and grab an impressive try.

The game then became a tighter affair with both teams playing to their respected strengths.

The visitors regained the lead at 11-8 with another penalty, only to be cancelled out almost immediately by another three-pointer from the boot of Gregson.

With the last play of the first half culminating in a Rockcliff penalty, their stand-off decided to kick from the halfway line, his effort hitting the crossbar before dropping over and edging the away side back in front at 14-11.

Guy Taylor bursts through a gap in the visitors' defence

Guy Taylor bursts through a gap in the visitors' defence

The opening exchanges of the second period saw impressive Whitby stand-off Sam Webster going over the line for a converted try, wresting back the initiative for the Maroons at 18-14.

As the contest started to develop into a particuarly tense and physical affair, Mitch Cannon was to the fore for the hosts, standing strong in the face of anything thrown at him by the Bay players.

Luke Brown was making plenty of inroads taking up crash balls into the opposition line, accompanied by Jack Braithwaite and James Newton.

The centre partnership of Aaron Jones and Oliver Roberts was also punching holes in the opposition defence.

With Whitby enjoying plenty of possession and territory, it wasn’t long before Gregson was presented with another opportunity for three points, which he duly converted, stretching his team’s advantage to 21-14.

Rockcliff continued to get up the pitch but were constantly knocked back by their hosts.

With the game still in the balance, Whitby were awarded another penalty, and with the large crowd holding its breath the cool Gregson smashed the ball over to make the game safe at 24-14.

Man of the match: Sam Webster.