Maroons suffer defeat after hard-fought battle at Acklam

Stu Gregson kicked a penalty and a conversion for Whitby
Stu Gregson kicked a penalty and a conversion for Whitby

Whitby Maroons hosted top-of-the-league Acklam on Saturday in what was going to be a keenly-contested derby match.

The Maroons had to make six changes to the matchday squad from the draw against Whitley Bay due to injuries and unavailability.

Whitby played against the elements in the first half, with the streetwise Acklam using the conditions to their advantage and forcing Whitby deep into their own territory.

The Maroons’ set-piece was struggling to find its usual rhythm as it adjusted to both the change in personnel and the step up in physicality from Acklam.

Eventually the visitors forced their way into a dangerous position and after having several lunges at the line the Acklam prop propelled his way over the line for a converted try, making the score 7-0.

Whitby, as they so often have this season, responded strongly, gaining field position and holding onto possession.

This allowed them to exert pressure on the Acklam defence, which quickly gave away a penalty giving Whitby the chance to cut the deficit, however this was missed and Acklam were able to clear their lines.

From the resulting play, Acklam looked dangerous on the counter-attack before Whitby committed an offence that offered the away side a chance to kick a penalty, leaving the score 10-0 to the hosts.

Acklam continued to hold the ascendancy, making the most of conditions and forcing Whitby in to mistakes with their strong defence.

This was never more so typified than Acklam’s second try, off the back of a strong side, a rare lapse in defensive concentration from Whitby let their inside centre go under the posts to make the score 17-0.

Whitby again struck back, when after a good chase off the kick-off allowed them to turn the ball over and after the first real period of territorial dominance, Whitby were given a kickable penalty, which Stu Gregson duly converted to make the score 17-3 to the hosts.

The remainder of the first half was played between both 22-metre lines, with Acklam taking both oppourtunites given, kicking two more penalties making the score 23-3 at half-time.

Whitby turned around after the break 20 points down, however with the conditions now in their favour theywere confident of turning the deficit around.

However, Whitby were unable to make use of the wind now at their backs and what followed would be a tremendously physical 40 minutes with both sides not prepared to give an inch in defence.

The game was lit up by a number of clean breaks from Sam Webster, one of which resulted in a try which Gregson converted for 23-10.

Acklam came back strongly with only some heroic defence from Connor Clements stopping Acklam from scoring more.

With both sides cancelling each other out, it looked as though the match was going to fizzle out.

However, Whitby fumbled the ball into touch five yards out from their line, giving Acklam a chance to score a final try, and they duly took this chance and made the final score 28-10.

Man of the match went to Clements.