Table toppers Whitby made the trip to improving Richmondshire hoping that the festive break would not scupper the momentum been built up before the festive break.
The Maroons’ last trip out was an impressive quarter-final cup win at Yorkshire rivals Baildon.
Ollie Roberts returned from a hamstring injury to the full back position with Connor Clements slotting back in at hooker where he impressed earlier in the season.
Whitby were also missing key flanker Anthoney Craig with a long-term knee injury
The conditions were more reminiscent of the Winter Olympics than a rugby match with freezing wind and snow showers the order of the afternoon.
Whitby started the game in touching with the cold conditions and seemingly struggled with their hotter opponents which concluded with the visitors conceding a penalty during the opening stages.
However, the Richmondshire number 10 fluffed his lines on this occasion but his team were soon back on the ascendency when a slick move through their backs ended with a converted try just five minutes later.
With the conditions detreating to the point of blizzard-like, the visitors had to step up to the challenge – and did.
At the halfway point of the first half captain Steve Allen slotted in a perfectly timed short pass for flanker Gordon Bland to go crashing over to get his team on the scoresheet.
Whitby followed this up by going straight back onto the attack when a neat move through the centres ended with Sam Webster going over in the opposition’s corner to further stretch Whitby’s lead, with one conversion added by Stuart Gregson.
This gave Whitby a narrow half-time lead of 12-7.
The half-time instructions from coach Darryl Grason were to keep it simple due to the conditions with no risky passes and to get some driving mauls going and to win the game through the forwards.
The second half began with Whitby putting pressure on the Richmondshire defence in an attempt to secure the victory.
The scrum started going the right way with Matt Russell and Bruce Reed getting a good foothold by applying pressure on their counterparts.
Locks Luke Brown and Neil Waterfield were making headway and both defending and attacking with some real vigour and purpose.
The third try of the afternoon came half way through the second half when impressive number eight, Nick Beaumont, finished off a good move after a 10-minute spell of pressure, when it had seemed that the visitors had been camping on the hosts’ line.
With three tries on the card, Whitby began to push for the all-important fourth try and with it the bonus point required to help to maintain their lead at the top of the Durham and Northumberland League division three.
The Maroons did not have to wait long with Beaumont again going over after an impressive rolling maul by the strong Whitby pack.
It was also a Whitby forward who finished the scoring off for the afternoon after a break by Beaumont witnessed the number eight unselfishly slotting a pass to Neil Waterfield who in turn did the rest.
With Gregson converting two second half conversions this made the full time score Richmondshire 7 Whitby 31.
This was a gritty performance delivered by a Whitby side who have sent out the right signals to the rest of the division by winning their first game back against a tough team in testing conditions.
Coach Darryl Grason said: “We did good things and bad, the bad being at times we tried to throw long passes in the middle of a blizzard, but once we worked out the game we needed to play our forwards took over and won us the contest.
“Some of our driving mauls were the best seen all season.”
Whitby Gazette Man of the Match: Neil Waterfield – impressive performance all afternoon, which was polished off with a well-taken try.
Richmondshire 7 Whitby Maroons 31