Only vets shine in a ‘disastrous’ first half

Ed Richardson and Guy Taylor double up in defence
Ed Richardson and Guy Taylor double up in defence

An understrength and undercooked Maroons side made the journey through the Tyne Tunnel to face promotion-chasing Whitley Bay.

The front row area was a particular problem with multiple cry-offs and unavailabilities, Bruce Reed moving up from the second row to cover and second team skipper Matt Jones also being drafted in.

Winning the toss, Whitby skipper Steve Allen chose to play up the slope, despite a warning during the pre-match team talk.

The Maroons started too slowly and the home side, playing some great free flowing rugby, opened up a 19-point lead in the first 12 minutes.

An inability to do the basics in finding touch from their own 22 hit the Maroons as the home side’s lightning backs feasted on the free ball given to them on a plate.

John Hatton and Ed Richardson battled bravely but too often they were left with too much to do.

A disastrous first half of tactical ineptitude saw the Whitby side outplayed and staring down the barrel of a hammering, as the Maroons trailed 35-0 at the break.

The second stanza saw a more even contest, veteran Richard Harrison came off the bench and had a galvanising effect on the pack.

Whitby created two great chances only for Guy Taylor to be held up short on both occasions.

Whitley Bay continued to use their cultured backs to carve holes and it was no surprise when they added three further touchdowns.

The Maroons’ indomitable spirit was still in evidence and they scored right on the final whistle when the old warhorse Matt Russell galloped over from two yards, Ollie Roberts adding the points.

In a tough afternoon, youngsters Joe Russell, Luke Brown and Barney Fountain all did well as did Bruce Reed and Matt Jones, while the stand-out players were probably the 40-pluses.

Whitby’s fitness levels were not as good as their opponents and with six games still to play, all players must now make the effort to get down to training and finish the season on a high note.

Whitby Gazette man of the match: Richard Harrison – rolled backs the years to stem the tide.

Whitby should have been playing Sunderland this weekend, but the Wearsiders are embarking on their club tour to Belgium so the firsts have no game.

Whitby Maroons remaining fixtures are as follows:

* March 22: Whitby v Ashington

* March 29: Ryton v Whitby

* April 5: Whitby v Hartlepool

* April 12: Hartlepool BBOB v Whitby

* April 19: Whitby v Wallsend

* April 26: Whitby v Sunderland

Whitby Rockcliff 52 Maroons 7