Maroons still search for elusive first win

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Whitby Maroons headed to their Wearside rivals still searching for that first elusive victory of the Durham and Northumberland League season.

Having only lost by narrow margins on the last two outings, confidence was high going into this tough encounter.

Whitby’s confidence was further boosted by the return of pack leader Matt Russell, along with fellow front rowers Shane Young and James Gildroy.

Whitby made an excellent start to the game with good attacking play and made the hosts realise they were in for a tough afternoon.

The first points were scored by Whitby in the third minute with Neil Waterfield slotting over a tricky penalty.

Whitby continued playing in the Sunderland half of the pitch and were unlucky not to score a try when excellent scrum half John Hatton was tackled just inches from the line after been put through by Russell.

Sunderland seemed to settle into the game and scored a penalty of their own after 10 minutes, which was the first time they had ventured into their attacking half of the pitch.

Whitby replied strongly to this setback with a further two penalties by Waterfield to stretch their lead to six points.

The backs were working hard with Jones, Webster and Craig tackling hard and breaking up any Sunderland attack.

Whitby started to tire approaching half-time which allowed Sunderland territorial advantage and they broke through the Whitby defence for the first try of the afternoon. The conversion was missed which made the half-time score Sunderland 8 Whitby 9.

The second half started with Sunderland pressing the Whitby defence. The forwards were tacking hard with Newton, Grady, Watson and Reed all working tirelessly to halt Sunderland’s advancement.

Whitby started to make mistakes and gave needless penalties to the hosts one of which was converted five minutes into the half.

Sunderland kept up the pressure and with them dominating the line-outs all afternoon, capitalised on a catch and drive to go over the tryline to give them a seven-point lead.

The next 20 minutes saw Whitby try to get back into the game but they invited pressure on themselves by not finding touch from their own 22.

Every player on the pitch was giving their all, and with only seven points needed to draw level Whitby always stood a chance.

The scrum was working well for Whitby and with Cairns, Mahaffy and Marsay being added to the pack, it continued to do so. The last 10 minutes saw the visitors getting tired, however, and Sunderland went over the tryline with just eight minutes left after another line out was won and driven over.

Another cruel blow was dealt with just two minutes left with a breakaway try to give the hosts a flattering 26-9 win.

Man of the match: John Hatton – the busy scrum half tackled all day and was a constant thorn in the Sunderland side.

Coach Daryl Grason said: “A fantastic effort was given by all 18 players today.

“It also highlighted areas which are needed to be improved, this should then enable us to get our first win which I am sure is just around the corner.

“We have an indomitable spirit in this side – we competed with one of the best sides in the league for 65 minutes, we just need to keep working hard and a win will come soon.

“We had many pluses last Saturday – the outstanding display of John Hatton at nine and the unearthing of a goal kicker in Neil Waterfield.”

Whitby Maroons 9 Sunderland 26