Whitby Maroons welcomed fifth place Seghill to the Showfield on Saturday in conditions that did not suit either team’s backs-orientated rugby.
The Maroons were the narrow victors at North Tyneside earlier on the season and just scrapped out a win after a hard-fought contest – and expected nothing different this time out.
The home side were boosted shortly before kick-off, with the return of influential flanker Anthony Craig to the bench, after a lengthy lay-off with damaged knee ligaments.
Powerhouse James Gildroy was called into the squad along with veteran Pete Stentiford after Scott Armstrong became ill during the week.
The game started after Captain Steve Allen won an important toss, to give his team the advantage of going down the slight slope with help from the blowing wind, so it became imperative for the hosts to get some points on the board in the first half.
Straight away the bullish home side instigated attack after attack only to be met by an equally determined Seghill defence, which stood firm.
It was evident that the scrum was much improved from the previous outing with the front row of Russell, Kaz and Reed handling anything that was offered by their counterparts.
The breakthrough for Whitby came after 15 minutes when lock Mitchell Cannon bossed his way through the resilient Seghill defence to get his team off the mark.
This was followed just five minutes later by a good solid try orchestrated through the forwards which was duly finished off through the solid number eight, Nick Beaumont.
With Whitby’s confidence ever growing, the points kept on rolling in with the young combination of Nathan Kaz and Mitchell Cannon working well after the former made a great off load to the later who grabbed his second try of the afternoon.
The next try, and the all-important bonus point for the Maroons, was fitting of a hat-trick completion for Mitchell Cannon. He ran 30m by evading several attempted tackles by pure strength and determination to complete a first half trio of tries and eventually delivered on the potential that the coaching staff believes he possesses.
The backs, feeling left out of the action, started to put some good moves together, one of which paid off shortly before half time when winger Jack Reeves slotted in experienced Oliver Roberts, who dived over the line.
With three conversions added by Stuart Gregson, this made the half-time score Whitby 31 Seghill 0.
Utilising the squad, coach Grason made numerous changes to give fringe players a chance of impressing.
With some important fixtures on the horizon, this gave Gildroy, Eglon and George Reeves a good opportunity.
The second half started with the Maroons keeping up the intensity and attitude that had been prevalent during the first stanza and soon added more points to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Jack Reeves kept up his own impressive points tally for the season by scoring a double in the first quarter of the half, the second after a fantastic pass by Sam Webster. Whitby refused to let the weather dictate the style of play and endeavoured to keep the ball in hands with the stable back line always improving.
Season rookie Jack Pearson continues to settle in well with his new team-mates and has added some solid ball carrying and tough tackling to the squad.
Seghill deserved full credit to sticking to their task and kept the league leaders at bay for lengthy periods of the game with some stubborn resilience.
Connor Clemence and Gordon Bland were halting any threat of a Seghill attack with their fierce tackling.
Luke Brown was next to get on the scoresheet after powering his way over the line after some good ball in hand work from his team-mates.
Scrum half David Bland was having one of his best games of the season and hardly put a foot wrong all afternoon with precise passing and some great defence work.
Nathan Kaz rounded off a nine-try haul by the Maroons after meandering down the wing to get a well-deserved try.
With Stuart Gregson adding another two impressive conversions in difficult conditions, which made the final score Whitby 55 Seghill 0.
With Whitby cementing their place at the top of Durham and Northumberland League division three, with another good performance in difficult conditions, confidence will keep on building.
The knowledge that tougher tests lie around the corner, give the squad a good sense of grounding and a knowledge that only hard work and the same level of commitment will get the club over the line at the end of the season.
Coach Darryl Grason said: “On a day when the abysmal weather conditions made life difficult for everyone, we managed to ignore them and get on with playing our own brand of attacking rugby.
“I thought Mitch Cannon and James Gildroy gave us good go forward and on the back of that we went on to dominate.”
Whitby Gazette man of the match: Mitchell Cannon, hat trick hero who energised the whole pack with his forward aggressive running. Match sponsor: Fuscos Limited.
* Whitby Rugby Club are having a reunion as a President’s Day dinner on Saturday March 14, at 1.30pm.
This is for all past players, committee and supporters. Meet your former team-mates and have a few drinks, cost £12 per person. This is followed by the England v Scotland Six Nations match at Twickenham.
Call 602008 after 7pm to reserve your place – card payments can be taken.
Whitby Maroons 55 Seghill 0