Maroons claim superb win at Ponteland
Whitby travelled to second-placed Ponteland, a team much fancied for promotion from Durham/Northumberland Two, and claimed a superb 37-21 win.
The visitors were looking to build on the previous weekend’s victory over Blyth.
Oliver Telfer was welcomed back into the team along with Richard Hare, but they were without influential back-rower David Bland.
The visitors got off to a good start and dominated territory from the first whistle.
This enabled Whitby to mount pressure on the host’s defence, with the battle in the scrummage very much going the way of Whitby, thanks to Bruce Reed, Rich Hare and Mitch Cannon dominating in the front row.
However, it was from a five-metre Whitby attacking scrum that Ponteland scored the first points of the afternoon, with a converted try after their full-back intercepted the ball to run 90 metres, completely against the run of play.
Whitby did not let this setback knock their confidence and got directly on with the job at hand, after exerting more pressure on the hosts, it was down to the reliable boot of Stu Gregson to convert a penalty to get his team up and running on the scoreboard.
This was soon followed by Mitch Cannon crashing through the Ponteland defence for a great team try which was converted by Gregson.
The visitors kept up the pressure which resulted in another five points when winger John Hatton went over the whitewash in the corner, to again finish off another fine team move.
The second-row partnership of Luke Brown and George Reeves was working well in supporting the scum, making crashing runs and fearless in defence all afternoon.
With half-time approaching, a quickly-taken penalty after a period of pressure from the hosts witnessed them go over for a converted try to make it 15-14 to Whitby.
Assistant coach Steve Allen gave his instructions and instilled belief in his troops that they could go out and win this game.
Whitby stretched their lead soon into the second half with a neatly-taken penalty from Gregson.
The centre partnership of Aaron Jones and Jannie Jacobs were working tirelessly for their team after being fed good ball all afternoon from Sam Webster.
Whitby were soon to stretch their lead further after hooker Richard Hare went over for another converted try to give the visitors a deserved 11-point lead.
The back row of James Newton, Anthoney Craig and Jack Braithwaite were taking the game to Ponteland with good physical play.
Craig was showing good form by making good turnovers with Braithwaite powering forward at every opportunity.
However, from a Ponteland scrum, they managed to retain the ball and score under the posts after a lapse of concentration by the Whitby defence to put themselves back in contention.
The game then went into a period of a midfield stalemate, with both teams showing maximum commitment.
Guy Taylor was making metres down his wing and had a busy afternoon.
Cannon, Brown and Braithwaite became the Whitby go-to men and took the ball in bravely whenever they had the ball.
Whitby began turning the screw on their opponents and captain Gordon Bland rounded off a fine display by going over to get a converted score and to give his team a great chance in securing a surprise win.
The visitors then brought on Richard Eglon to add some fresh legs to the pack that had worked so hard all afternoon.
The last phase of play witnessed Gregson going over in the corner after a fine piece of handling from Bland from a Whitby scrum, with the conversion narrowly missed this made the final score 37-21 to the visitors.
Man of the match Braithwaite’s display reflected the performance from the whole team and he never stopped working.
This was a landmark victory for the Maroons with manager Matt Jones delighted at the result and performance.
He said: “All the squad were magnificent today and this is the best team performance I have witnessed at the club.
“To travel all the way up there and to turn over such a good team with a bonus point win on their own patch is fantastic.
“Our mission now is to keep working and finish off this fine season as strong as we possibly can.”