Whitby RUFC’s 1st XV fell just short of causing a huge upset against promotion-chasing Blyth at the Showfield on Saturday.
The Maroons threw everything at their high-flying visitors in the closing stages, but were unable to find the late try that they needed to earn them a share of the spoils, eventually going down 25-20.
Team manager Matt Jones said: “This was a very committed performance by our lads and one where we had opportunities to win the game.
“On another day, with a bit more luck we could have easily caused a massive upset in this tough league.”
The game started well for Whitby with centre Jack Pearson making a good break and getting his team into the right area of the field.
However, Blyth were soon on the attack and capitalised after a line-out 10 metres out.
A catch and drive from the forwards saw them go over in the corner to register the first points of the afternoon.
The Maroons were soon on the back foot after conceding a penalty in the danger area.
This allowed the visiting scrum-half to take a quick tap and catch the Whitby defence napping, going under the posts for a converted score.
With a 12-point deficit, the home side started to play much better rugby, the backs showing some good flair with ball in hand. Opportunities arrived, with pacey winger Stuart Gregson only centre-metres away from touching down after a smart kick by captain Gordon Bland.
More pressure was heaped onto the visitors with Gregson going very close again, but this time with his boot after a narrow miss from a penalty.
Gregson was however soon to get himself and his team on to the scoreboard with a smart finish in the corner after another good phase of play through the backs.
With their tails up, Whitby continued to press and it was Gregson again going over in the opposite corner for 12-10.
With the half-time whistle not far away, a break from the visitors saw them touchdown out wide to stretch their lead to seven points, against the run of play.
The second period began with the Maroons pressing, which brought about another penalty attempt for Gregson which was once again just narrowly off target.
The visitors then registered a penalty of their own to stretch their lead, and the pressure kept on mounting on the Whitby defence.
After an altercation that saw him punched while on the ground, lock Luke Brown was bizarrely shown a yellow card, which in-turn piled even more pressure on the hosts.
Blyth did make use of their numerical advantage and went over the line to stretch their lead to 12 points with only around 15 minutes left on the clock.
With both Richard Eglon and Mitch Cannon now on the pitch, some much-needed power and fresh legs were added to the scrum and Whitby began play some attacking rugby once again.
After winning possession at a scrum and going through the hands of the back line, the ball found the waiting Cannon, who bulldozed his way through three Blyth defenders to power over under the posts.
With Gregson converting, this pulled the gap back to five points with eight minutes left to play.
Whitby gallantly chucked everything at their visitors, but couldn’t find a breakthrough and the narrow defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for all concerned.
The Maroons return to action tomorrow when they travel to Winlaton Vulcans.
Whitby Co-Operative man of the match: Luke Brown.