Whitby Maroons suffered a narrow defeat on Saturday in a game they could have easily won.
In a spirited display, Whitby pushed their higher-placed rivals all the way.
The build-up to the match could not have gone much worse with Whitby losing four forwards – half a pack – within eight hours of kick-off.
The Maroons, under the captaincy of full back Ollie Roberts, won the toss and played up the hill.
They made a tremendous start with the front row of Coverdale, Mahaffy and Young driving in well and also showing up strongly in the scrummaging.
Redcar were forced into giving away five penalties in a row and Whitby, showing renewed confidence with ball in hand, stretched the Redcar defence to the limit.
They should have led but missed an easy three points from near the posts.
Redcar, a top four side in the Durham and Northumberland League second division – punished Whitby on 12 minutes when they broke away down the field.
After a series of drives close to the home line, they crashed over to take the lead with their classy fly half crucially kicking an excellent conversion.
Whitby stayed in the game with tigerish defence and some typical aggression in the tackle from Scott Armstrong created a try for himself from nothing when he gathered the ball 40 metres out from a loose pass and sprinted over for his fifth try in the last six games – an outstanding effort playing in a team near the foot of the table.
The conversion struck a post and the Maroons remained two points adrift.
With the match now see-sawing the home side took an 8-7 half-time lead from a penalty bang in front of the posts from Sam Webster.
The second stanza saw Redcar in the ascendancy for the opening 15 minutes but great work from the back row of Anthoney Craig, James Newton and Jack Grady was negating any attack as they covered every blade of grass.
Matt Russell, a half-time substitute, was having a galvanising effect on the pack and Whitby stood firm.
However, the referee, who had decided he did not like Whitby’s perceived slowing of the ball at the breakdown, managed to construe to send three home players to the bin in the space of five minutes, leaving the Maroons to defend with 12 men.
Two of the binnings were fair enough but the key one on Jack Grady for pulling down seemed totally wrong.
Redcar seized their chance and despite heroic defence from the remaining Whitby players, they scored near the posts to the the lead.
With 12 minutes left and the field in total darkness, the Maroons threw everything at Redcar.
Wingers Connor Clennan and Scott Armstrong went excruciatingly close and from a five-yard scrum it seemed Whitby had a platform to push on and win the game; however a technical penalty saw the danger cleared and Redcar clung on.
Coach Darryl Grason said: “This was a great effort by a patched-up Maroons side which did not get the result it deserved.
“Luke Brown and Bruce Reed used their bulk to good effect and in the back line, Sam Webster, in for the newly married Steve Allen, played really well, playing visionary attacking rugby.
“Ultimately, the lack of a frontline quality goalkicker once again cost Whitby this game as eight points went begging.”
Whitby Gazette men of the match: Phil Coverdale, impressive aggressive driving play and Scotty Armstrong, flying youngster getting better game by game.
This Saturday sees the Maroons go to 10th placed Barnard Castle for a clash that looks set up for a shock.
Whitby Maroons 8 Redcar 12