Maroons face Castle test

Luke Brown carries the ball forward during Whitby Maroons' victory over Seaton Carew. Picture Brian Murfield
Luke Brown carries the ball forward during Whitby Maroons' victory over Seaton Carew. Picture Brian Murfield

Whitby RUFC Maroons tackle high-flying Barnard Castle at the Showfield, on Saturday.

Darryl Grason’s side will be aiming to build on last week’s success over Seaton Carew as they look to put more distance between themselves and the Durham and Northumberland Division Two relegation places.

But Whitby, who are now 20 points clear of the drop zone, will have their work cut out against a Castle outfit who sit joint top of the table and have won 12 of their 13 league outings this season, including a 60-3 mauling of the Maroons in October.

“It is a very hard ask, but I know that the lads will give it their all,” head coach Grason told the Whitby Gazette ahead of the game, which kicks off at 2.15pm.

Last week, playing their first game of the calendar year at home, the Maroons ran in six tries in a 34-14 success over Seaton Carew.

Whitby started as though they meant business, and not long was on the clock before the deadlock was broken when the impressive Jannie Jacobs beat his man to register the first try of the afternoon.

The home side continued to press and quickly stretched their lead with pacy full-back Stu Gregson both scoring and converting a neatly-taken try.

There was no let-up from Whitby and hard-working flanker Anth Craig sidestepped two Carew defenders to go under the posts, a feat which didn’t please his one of his opponents who received a yellow card for lashing out at the try-scorer.

Gregson converted to give the Maroons a 19-point advantage over their visitors.

Carew eventually began to get into the game and started to gain the advantage at the scrum, using their size and weight advantage to win much of the ball at the set-piece.

This pressure eventually saw them awarded a penalty try following a five-metre scrum where Whitby’s back row broke their bind too early for the referee’s liking.

The hosts hit straight back when, with half-time approaching, Connor Clements broke free and burst 40 metres down the wing to grab another try for his team.

The final play of the first period saw Carew awarded a second penalty try when scrum-half David Bland was adjudged by the referee to have used just his shoulder in a last-ditch tackle, for which he also received a yellow card.

The Maroons took a healthy 24-14 lead into the interval, when skipper Gordon Bland encouraged his players to dig in and see out the game in the second period.

The arrival of Mitchell Cannon added some grit to the front row, which improved the direction in which the scrum was going in a fiercely competitive encounter where tempers flared on more than one occasion.

It was the Maroons who registered the first points of the second half when veteran Ollie Roberts finished off a fine move through the backs for 29-14.

Carew searched for a way back into proceedings but with man of the match Clements tackling anything that moved and Newton, Craig and Luke Brown standing up to any test that was thrown at them, Whitby held firm.

With the game entering the final stages, the impressive Gregson rounded things off when he chipped the ball down the wing before chasing it down to grab his second try of the afternoon.

Reflecting on his side’s 34-14 victory, Grason said: “It was good to see a big home support again, and buoyed by this, the lads showed much heart and, on a heavy pitch, we played expansive flowing rugby.

“It is important we stay focused as the teams around us are also picking up points so we need to keep improving.”