Lifeline for Maroons

Whitby try to win the ball back from opponents Prudhoe'picture: Alan Wastell
Whitby try to win the ball back from opponents Prudhoe'picture: Alan Wastell

A soggy Showfield played host to a basement battle that neither side could afford to lose. Prudhoe were rooted to the foot of the table with Whitby just one place above them.

The hosts were still missing key players including James Gildroy, Sam Webster and long-term injury casualty, Andy Grady.

The game started with the visitors on the front foot and taking the game to Whitby with some good aggressive play orientated by the forwards. The breakthrough for Prudhoe came after just five minutes when strong forward play resulted in them crashing over in the corner.

However, Whitby became composed and started to apply pressure on the Prudhoe tryline. Centres Aaron Jones, Ed Richardson and Guy Taylor were constantly causing the visitors problems with some good running and clever passing.

The Whitby pressure seemed to pay off when captain Steve Allan kicked the ball deep into the Prudhoe half, only for the opposing full back to flap at the ball and lose control and let Whitby winger Scott Armstrong to touch the ball down. However, the referee did not allow the try to stand and gave a Whitby scrum near the halfway line.

The home side put the pressure straight back on and soon opened their own account. After several scoring opportunities, illegally halted by the visitors and ending with a yellow card for a Prudhoe lock, full back Oliver Roberts converted a penalty to get his team up and running.

Whitby continued to play their rugby with the forwards growing into the game and more than holding their own at the scrum and the break down, with locks Luke Brown and Dan Marsay putting on the pressure. Loose head prop Dan Cairns had to leave the field with a leg injury after impressing for the first 30 minutes, which saw the introduction of veteran prop Matt Russell.

Whitby furthered their lead on the stroke of half-time with Russell having a positive effect. With a penalty 5m out, he bravely took the ball into the Prudhoe defence but it was down to fellow prop Bruce Reed who followed him in and took control of the ball to score his first try of the season and give his team an 8-5 half-time lead.

The second half started in the same fashion that the first had ended with Whitby again on the ascendency.

Ed Richardson was forced off with a shoulder injury and made way for Gordon Bland. It did not take the hosts long to increase their deserved lead when hooker Dave Mahaffey picked up the loose ball at the back of a ruck and went crashing over the line.

Five minutes later, Whitby went some way to make the game safe and out of reach of their fellow strugglers.

Impressive number eight James Newton secured the ball and went dancing through the defence line to score an impressive solo effort, with the conversion added by Roberts this gave Whitby a 15 point advantage with 30 minutes left to play.

The next period of the game saw Prudhoe on the ascendency and forcing the Whitby defence to work hard to keep their lead.

The job was not made any easier when tough tackling Jones was yellow carded for bringing down his opponent just a couple of meters from where he had taken the penalty.

Stout defending was the order of the day with flankers Anthony Craig and Andy Watson leading the way in this department. The Whitby defence held strong with Prudhoe throwing everything they had at them.

In the final seconds, the visitors gained a deserved five points when some quick passing through the backs ended with the fleet footed winger going over to grab the final points of the afternoon.

This game witnessed a much-improved level of controlled aggression with especially Bruce Reed stepping up above his years. A good team spirit and sense of togetherness was witnessed which all congealed to help Whitby to get their second win of the campaign and in turn giving themselves a platform to build on.

Man of the match: Aaron Jones - an excellent showing of strong forward running and brave aggressive tackling.

Match sponsors: Astins Estate Agents.

Whitby Maroons 20 Prudhoe & Stocksfield 10