Third win running lifts Maroons up into third

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Whitby Maroons claimed a third league win on the bounce after they relaxed and let Houghton back into the game.

The Maroons won the toss and opted to play up the noticeable slope and into a strong wind.

The home side had a lot of the early field position and pressure, looking to bust Whitby up the fringes with a typically pick and drive game used by many of the sides in the league.

The Maroons’ defence stood firm and on eight minutes, a counter-attack saw the ever-improving Anthony Craig burst through the middle of a ruck, the versatile number six making a great run to within 5m of the line fantastic support by Andy Grady saw him bustle over, Captain Steve Allen added

a good conversion and the Maroons jumped out to a seven-point lead.

Better was to follow when following a flowing backs move the evergreen Dave Straker released right wing Johnno Hatton who scored with ease to take the score to 12-0.

With the forwards in charge, Whitby continued to play some great stuff and speedy young centre Guy Taylor poached an interception to make it 19 point lead for a superb first 40 minutes by all the young Whitby side.

Whitby made two changes at half time with Pete Stentiford on the right wing and the club giving a debut to Durham County junior player Kristien Pollock.

With the slope and confidence now high, it was expected the Maroons would kick on but exasperatingly for the coaches, the opposite occured.

The side relaxed and as a result a good Houghton side were allowed back into the contest.

Poor tackling from the backs saw a 70m try conceded and worse was to come as an interception meant two touchdowns allowed in five minutes.

It was now game on with only one score in it, but thankfully the older heads in the side in the form of Matt Russell and Steve Allen dragged Whitby back into the game.

Tactical nous, sadly lacking for a brief period, came back and the Maroons started playing at the right end of the field.

Three good touchfinders by Allen saw the Maroons drive from the ensuing line-outs and from one of these, crafty prop Russell used all his experience to roll over.

Composure restored, the young players’ ebullience returned and tenacious tackling, especially from Connor Clements and Anthony Craig, shut down the game.

There were lessons to be learned for Whitby - they must play for 80 minutes, ruck beyond the ball and the backs’ organisation and defence must improve.

On the plus side, this was a game that had to be won and the Maroons came through it, although stiffer tests will follow.

Whitby Gazette man of the match: Jack Grady - fantastic work rate and enthusiasm.

Houghton-le-Spring 12 Whitby Maroons 24

* Saturday’s excellent victory lifted the Maroons to third place and this Saturday (6 Oct) gives the Whitby public the first chance for several weeks to see the Maroons’ emerging young side in action.

A big crowd is expected at the Showfield when they entertain ninth placed Jarrovians.

The open, free-flowing style brand of rugby will need to continue with the emphasis on support play.

Forwards coach Matt Webster, who has rapidly put his mark on the pack, will be looking for aggressive rucking to set the platform for Whitby’s exciting young backs to be released.

Kick off is at 3pm, as it is for the Harlequins who face Northallerton also at White Leys.

Any player who is available and wanting a match for the ‘Quins should contact Tim, Dusty or ring the club on 602008.