In-form Whitby RUFC made it four wins in a row when they beat Winlaton Vulcans 31-14 at the Showfield on Saturday.
Darryl Grason’s men hit the ground running, surging into a 17-0 half-time lead against opponents who were third in the Durham & Northumberland Division Two table at Christmas but have struggled recently.
The victory saw the Maroons leapfrog their visitors and move up to eighth in the standings, leaving coach Darryl Grason delighted.
“This made it four wins in a row, and for a side which lost six of its first seven games that represents a fantastic turnaround,” he said
“Every one of these young players have improved and we now have a team spirit which will hold them together.”
Whitby were without influential forwards Luke Brown and James Newton while Kyle Woods was a flu victim and the opening 10 minutes lacked any real pattern as both teams vied for superiority.
The Maroons tried to open the game up, while the visitors looked to bash their way through using their big pack.
When the first try of the game arrived it was a stunner.
Whitby full-back Stuart Gregson counter-attacked and as the ball moved swiftly down the home back line an acute switch Connor Clements go over in the corner for a superb team score.
Gregson, back on form with the boot, landed a difficult conversion off the touchline.
The Maroons extended their lead when Winlaton were penalised for not releasing the tackled player and Gregson kicked the three points 10-0.
The game was still very even, however, and the Winlaton fly-half, who was in form with the boot throughout, made three 50-metre clearances to pin Whitby back on their own line.
Two vital steals in the line-out from Anth Craig allowed the hosts to clear the danger.
On 30 minutes, another flowing back move saw the Maroons go further ahead when a break from Gregson was backed up by left-winger Jani Jacobs who finished well under the sticks, Gregson again adding the conversion.
With Whitby turning round to face the slope in the second period the game was far from over even with a 17-point lead.
And Winlaton, using route one tactics, started to dominate in the scrum, gaining a plethora of penalties as the home side struggled with the referee’s interpretation of the engagement at the set piece.
This eventually led to Mitchell Cannon heading to the sin-bin, reducing Whitby to 14 men.
After what seemed an eternity, the referee eventually decided to award Winlaton a penalty try under the posts.
Stung by this the Maroons upped their work rate, and captain Gordon Bland, who is now getting back to somewhere near full fitness, scored a glorious solo try. beating a number of defenders with searing side steps.
Gregson converted for a 24-7 lead.
Whitby were getting little ball, but when they did they flung it wide at every opportunity in an attempt to tire the bigger Winlaton pack out.
And after good build-up from the home forwards, an overlap was created and wily veteran centre Ollie Roberts dummied to go over for a rare try, again converted by the lethal Gregson.
The last 10 minutes were mainly made up of a series of unproductive messy scrums, and with the referee deciding Winlaton were on top in that area he again awarded a penalty try to the visitors, this being the only way they looked threatening and the match ended with Whitby comfortable winners.
There were good performances by the young Whitby front row of Cannon, Nathan Kaz, Adam Wilson and Bruce Reed, who despite having a tough assignment, battled all day, while all of the backs impressed.
Whitby’s next fixture will be one of the toughest of the season as they travel to face promotion-chasing Redcar on April 2.
Whitby Co-operative man of the match: Gordon Bland – captain fantastic turned in probably his best performance of the season.