A blustery afternoon at the Showfield on Saturday saw Whitby Maroons welcome a much-improved Washington side for a much-anticipated fixture.
With Whitby’s injury list expanding, there were recalls for Josh Wilson and George Reeves along with the more experienced heads of Matt Coomber, Tim Richardson and Marcus Coates at hooker.
The Maroons were hoping to regain their position at the top of the table after losing it to Yarm the previous week due to the lack of a bonus point.
The game started with both teams testing each other out and trying to gain an early advantage in proceedings.
The visitors came the nearest after a narrow miss from a penalty 30m out. Whitby replied with a penalty which was slotted over by Ollie Roberts to give his team the lead.
Whitby started to pile on the pressure on their opponents with ever-improving Sam Webster only being denied a try by a desperate last-ditch tackle by the defence.
It was only a matter of time for the first try of the game to come for the Maroons which it did after great work by Webster again, who set up Roberts who touched the ball down and also secured the two extra points from the conversion.
From the restart, Whitby got straight back on the front foot and started to put more pressure on the defence.
Veteran prop Matt Russell started to make more of an impression on the game and after setting up a rolling maul and pushing it just short of the line, young lock Richard Eglon’s quick thinking gave Whitby another five points, after grabbing the ball off Russell and crashing the ball down over the line.
The back row of Connor Clements, Andy Grady and Nick Beaumont were tackling well and breaking up any moves that Washington were putting together.
With the 30 minute mark on the clock, impressive centre Jack Pearson made a great run to set up winger Scott Armstrong to keep his tally for the season ticking over.
Scrum half David Bland was also impressive and is making more of an impact with every passing game since his welcome return to rugby. The final play of the half saw the impressive Washington fly-half being sent to the sin-bin for totting up misdemeanours. More of the same was the message from coach Darryl Grason during the break who was full of praise for his team and especially impressed with prop Bruce Reed who continues to grow as a stalwart of the front row.
Fresh legs were added to the field with Dan Marsay and George Reeves brought on.
The second half started with Whitby looking likely to stretch their already commanding lead.
With space opening up, lock Luke Brown found space and was making several bursting breaks to gain his team much territory.
Anthony Craig was also growing in stature throughout the game and this concluded with him finishing off a fine move through the backs involving Pearson and Webster to get his team the all-important bonus point try.
Halfway through the second half, Webster intercepting a Washington pass to score a fine quick-thinking solo try to stretch his team’s lead to 32 points. The next seven points were added after a dazzling run by Anthony Craig and the extras added by Ollie Roberts.
Not everything went Whitby’s way – young winger Jannie Jacobs and George Reeves had to be substituted for treatment and replaced by Josh Wilson and Matt Coomber. Whitby were also reduced to 14 men when fly half Jack Pearson was adjudged harshly to have mistimed a tackle.
Craig gave the glaze to a great team performance with another great solo effort touched down in the corner. Roberts impressively slotted over the most difficult kick of the afternoon to give himself a 16-point haul for the after
Whitby Gazette man of the match: Luke Brown – a strong forward running performance by the young lock who showed maturity beyond his years.
Whitby Maroons 48 Washington 0