WHITBY Maroons played host to Chester-le-Street in their first home league fixture of the season - and got off to a flier.
The weather was perfect for the large crowd although it was rather hot for the players and the ground very hard for the first five minutes.
Both teams battled for dominance, trying to gain the upper hand.
Whitby were fielding a very young team and were missing a little leadership at outside half but once Joe Lenton, who was stepping into this unfamiliar position, established an understanding with scrum half Gordon Bland, the pair started to form an admirable partnership.
Soon, the more experienced Whitby forwards Matt Russell and Shane Young started to assert their authority on the game and some neat play by James Newton led to a lovely pass reaching Alex Taylor who scored in the right hand corner for his first try for the Whitby first team.
However, once they had taken the lead, Whitby went to sleep and Chester-le-Street scored their own try soon afterwards.
The Whitby team were now starting to find their rhythm and it wasn’t long before forwards Phil Coverdale and Andy Grady got the ball out to Bruce Reed, who scored a close range try in the corner the second of the junior team members to score his first first team try that day the backs now got more involved in the game centres Nick Beaumont and Anth Craig working well with wings Matt Kendrew and John Hatton and before the first half ended Gordon Bland scored Whitbys third try after collecting the ball from the back of the scrum
After playing so well in the first half, Whitby came out for the second half lacking in attacking ideas and only some stout defensive work from Jack Grady and Lee Bryan kept their team in the game.
It was Guy Taylor who showed his skill and pace, gathering a loose kick, side-stepping the Chester-le-Street defence and running in a try from 60 metres.
The try was converted by Joe Lenton. Whitby were really taking control of the game and playing some lovely running rugby.
Their lead allowed them to introduce some more of the youngsters into the game with Dan Marsay and Dyran Sullivan coming on to play their part in the game and before long, Gordon Bland broke through the oppositon line and scored his second try.
After a period of sustained Whitby pressure, they were camped on the Chester-le-Street line after being awarded a succession of penalties and eventually Jim Fountain was passed the ball and he scored in the corner to finish the game
Afterwards, the man of the match award was as hotly contested as the game with Gordon Bland nominateed for his two tries, Guy Taylor for his outstanding solo try and Jack Grady for his hard work in the front row of the Whitby scrum and his defensive tackling.
This game was an excellent opening home game for the season played in great spirit although the scoreline was slightly harsh on Chester-le-Street. Hopefully this will give the Whitby team a confidence boost for the rest of season.
* Tomorrow, the young Maroons travel to face Yarm.
The two teams know each other well after both being relegated from league two last year, with the Maroons gaining two wins over the Blues.
Yarm, however, are a different proposition this term, having recruited well and they have started impressively with two wins over Sedgefield and
Chester le Street amassing 78 points and conceding only 15.
The Maroons will have to be at their best to get a win and climb the table from their current position but this is a young improving side who
will be looking to kick on and improve again on their first two outings.
Whitby Maroons 32 Chester-le Street 5