Gregson shows his nerve to seal last-gasp Whitby RUFC win

Whitby show their delight after crashing over the Ponteland line. Pictures by Brian Murfield.
Whitby show their delight after crashing over the Ponteland line. Pictures by Brian Murfield.

Whitby RUFC Maroons hosted Ponteland in a battle for survival - edging a tense clash by a narrow 18-17 margin thanks to Stu Gregson’s last-gasp penalty.

Hosts Whitby played against the elements in the first half, with north-east visitors Ponteland using the wind to their advantage.

Strong defence from the Whitby pack held the Ponteland attack in check until five minutes before the half when the away side broke the deadlock to make the score 5-0 at half-time after a tight and hard-fought first half.

Whitby turned around at half-time stronger, playing in the pacy, physical style that served them well last year.

Eventually this paid off as veteran Oliver Roberts bundled over to level the score, with the conversion making it 7-5 to the Maroons.

Ponteland struck back with a try to take a 10-7 advantage in a tense, gruelling encounter of the bottom two sides in Durham Northumberland One.

Whitby showed strong resolve, getting back down the field for Gregson to successfully kick a penalty to even the scores at 10-10.

The home side’s strong pack then pushed their Ponteland counterparts back from a five-metre line-out for Connor Clements to crash over and score and put Whitby 15-10 to the good.

The Maroons’ rearguard defence held firm for the final 15 minutes, until an inexplicable penalty-try was awarded to Ponteland, making the score 17-15 to the away side with just two minutes left on the clock and time running out.

A pin-point kick off from Gordon Bland forced Ponteland to kick the ball out in their own 22.

A strong driving maul from Whitby then forced Ponteland to collapse the maul before hosts Whitby were able to score a match-winning try.

This teed up the nerveless Gregson to step up for a crucial penalty, which he landed with the last kick of the game to make the final score 18-17, Whitby’s first win of the season which will give them hope of avoiding the drop.

The Maroons host Horden and Peterlee this weekend before finishing 2018 with a trip to Barnard Castle and leaders Durham City at home.