Eighth shutout of season for disciplined Maroons

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On a bitterly cold afternoon, Whitby made the long journey to face Seghill, with veteran utility back Oliver Roberts coming into the squad.

Joe Lenton shifted to full back to replace prolific points scorer Christian Pollock, who was out with hamstring problems.

On a pitch little better than a bog and with a lot of standing water in places, the Maroons had first use of the slight slope.

The finger numbing cross-wind allied to the wet was always going to make handling difficult and a couple of clear scoring chances were bombed early on.

Nick Beaumont on the left wing was seeing a lot of the ball having some good runs and also turning over ball as his recent improvement continued.

Once again it was centre Dave Straker who stood up to the plate, taking a nice reverse pass from skipper Steve Allen to bundle four would-be tacklers out of the way for a blockbusting solo try.

The Maroons pack was on top with the forwards working hard at the set piece.

Shane Young went over only to be held up but from the resulting 5m scrum Tristan Pottas called for the ‘Diggy Diggy’ and the pack responded with a great drive which he finished off himself. Gordon Bland converting to push the Maroons out to 12-0.

More good territorial play saw the Maroons draw lots of penalties from the home side and quick thinking by classy scrum half Gordon Bland saw him squeeze over from close range for 19-0 lead at half-time.

The second half kicked off with the home side aided by some very strange interpretations at the breakdown dominating the first 15 minutes.

The Maroons despite obvious frustration stayed tight-lipped and put their tackling machine into overdrive.

Tackle after tackle was made by the Maroons as every 50/50 decision seemed to go against them.

The break out finally came from a scrum deep in their own half. The Maroons launched an attack which provided one of the tries of the season.

The catylist for a fantastic 75m effort was a great drive by the pack which allowed Pottas to draw the back row and put Bland into space.

He fed marauding full back Joe Lenton who sprinted to halfway before passing inside to the ever-present Jack Grady, who gave the scoring pass back to Bland for a brilliant team try that had everything, vision, belief, lines of running and support. Bland converted.

Another good move involving Lenton saw him put Straker clear and he bashed off two would-be tacklers on the way to the line to finsh off a well deserved win.

The game appeared to finish early as the referee seemed to take pity on the cold players.

Most of the Maroons’ play was good, but the achilles heel was once again kick-offs - three were knocked on and only one from six were caught, clearly not good enough.

Too often the would-be catcher was left isolated and unprotected and despite practicing this drill midweek there was no improvement.

The pluses were the form of the forwards who stood up well to a big pack on a treacherous surface, Jock Harrison having an impact in the set piece and the back row of Pottas and the two Gradys scything down the opposition all over the pitch.

In the backs, scrum half Bland was again outstanding, whilst Anth Craig and Dave Straker formed a strong effective centre combination in midfield. Lenton at full back played superbly and meant the loss of Pollock was not felt except perhaps in the goal kicking stakes.

This was the Maroons’ seventh clean sheet in 18 matches and the fourth in the last five games and it is a testament to this side’s heart and discipline.

Whitby Gazette man of the match: Joe Lenton.

Seghill 0 Whitby Maroons 31

The Maroons’ bonus point win keeps them in good position in their quest to overhaul long-time leaders Hartlepool BBOB, who defeated Whitby’s next opponents Washington 33-0 in a bonus point win.

The Maroons are still nine points behind but crucially have a game in hand and also a better points difference of 617 to 501 an advantage of 116.

With BBOB visiting the Showfield in the last game of the season everything at this stage is still up for grabs.

With only four league games left, this Saturday sees another important week for Whitby as the Maroons return to their home at the Showfield to take on 10th placed Washington in what is their game in hand match.

The gap at the top can be narrowed to only four points. Kick-off 3pm.

The Maroons’ remaining league fixtures:

16 March v Washington (home)

3 March v South Tyneside (home)

6 April v Washington (away)

13 April v Hartlepool BBOB (home)