Maroons suffer narrow defeat at Bay

Stuart Gregson was a try-scorer for Whitby Maroons in their defeat at Whitley Bay Rockcliff
Stuart Gregson was a try-scorer for Whitby Maroons in their defeat at Whitley Bay Rockcliff

Whitby RUFC’s 1st XV slipped to an agonising 19-18 defeat on the road at Whitley Bay Rockcliff.

The Maroons missed a last-minute conversion attempt that would have seen them win the game following a fine performance from their depleted side.

Reflecting on the loss, coach Daryl Grason said: “I am so proud of my players, we left nothing on the pitch and played for each other.

“One kick was the difference and the lads who stepped up from the second team take much credit.

“A word for the referee Mr Graeme Crozier of Gosforth, who showed empathy to both sides in appalling conditions and made it the great spectacle it was.”

Whitby made the long trip to Whitley Bay, short of a number of first-team regulars and found a mudbath of a pitch awaiting them.

The home side kicked off and their heavier pack exerted a lot of pressure on the young Whitby side in the opening exchanges, dominating at the scrum in particular.

The home eight bullocked over from close range to grab the opening try of the day but the Maroons were scavenging well through their back row of Anth Craig, Andy Little and James Newton.

From a midfield turnover, great hands saw Sam Webster put stand-in winger Connor Clements over in the corner to level the scores at 5-5.

Things got better for Whitby when a well-struck 30-metre penalty from Stuart Gregson put the Maroons 8-5 ahead by half-time.

Turning to face the icy wind, the second period was a test of endurance for Whitby, and a catch and drive led to a touchdown for the hosts which saw them regain the lead at 12-8.

Inpsired by their talismanic captain Gordon Bland at scrum-half, the Maroons hit back with a fantastic move.

No less than nine players were involved before Kyle Woods, a last minute call up from the 2nd XV, sprinted over to give Whitby 13-12 lead.

With the game in the balance the strong running of Luke Brown brought some relief, as did some useful turnovers from veteran Rich Harrison.

With 10 minutes left, both teams understandably became a little jittery, and after a bout of aerial ping pong in midfield, a fumble just outside the Whitby 22 fell fortuitously into the hands of the Whitley Bay number eight, who galloped under the posts to make the score 19-13 to the home side.

With barely five minutes left, the Maroons launched a final desperate attack and another flowing move saw Sam Webster, who enjoyed a fine game at fly-half, put Stuart Gregson over some 20 metres to the right over the posts.

In terrible conditions for kicking, the conversion attempt fell inches short, meaning defeat for a gallant Whitby side, whose only consolation was their 13th bonus point of the season.

Whitby Co-operative man of the match: Anth Craig - Got the vote for his non stop tenacious tackling, but in truth all of the 16 players used on the day were worthy of this award.