WHITBY Maroons travelled to Sedgefield on Saturday, expecting a tough encounter - and they were not disappointed.
On a field which resembled an upturned saucer the home side provided stiff opposition with their abrasive route one tactics.
From the outset, it was clear that this was going to be very much a clash of styles with Whitby looking to play a wide expansive game and
Sedgefield a much tighter forwards-based driving game.
Whitby started well with attacking intent and from a flowing backs move, outstanding full back Christian Pollock beat two defenders for a superb try in the corner, one to which he added a magnificent touchline conversion.
The Maroons were playing at a pace the home side struggled with and should have added further scores, just failing to do so, on one occasion mistakenly thinking the five-yard line was the trline.
Sedgefield came back into the game as their forwards began to develop some momentum.
The home number 10 was having a great match and Whitby defenders seemed unable to put him down and he scored a fine individual try to level the scores.
Whitby’s response was immediate and returning centre Dave Straker took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring two excellent barreling tries
as the home defenders dropped off him. Whitby led 19-7 at half-time.
Despite a warning at the break from the coach that this game was far from over Whitby, went to sleep straight after half time.
Poor kick-off reception which had blighted them all day proved their undoing as Sedgefield raised their game.
Sedgefield gained field position through Whitby mistakes and they bounced right back into it with two tries taking the score to 19-17.
With the match now in the balance, the Maroons had to step up to the plate - and they managed to turn the game round with the tackling of the back row of Jack Grady, Andy Grady and Tristan Pottas forcing Sedgefield back.
Whitby’s fitness now became a factor and gradually the started winning the penalty count and gaining territory.
The excellent Pollock had two tries disallowed where on another day they could have been awarded before fly half Steve Allen made the game safe in the dying minutes with a try in the corner.
This was a game that had to be fought for and the young Whitby side showed great spirit.
The front three of Coverdale, Hare and Harrison never took a backward step against much bigger opponents.
There was a superb display by young Joe Lenton in an unaccustomed role of scrum half and Dave Straker stiffened the back’s defence.
Whitby now have a week off league duty before a crunch game in two weeks’ time when they take on one of the promotion favourites Seghill at the Showfield.
Whitby Gazette man of the match: Jack Grady - phenomenal tackle count allied to will to win did much to turn the match Whitby’s way.
* With no league game but friendlies arranged all players should check with the club or Matt to ascertain where they are playing.
On a sad note, Whitby lost veteran hooker Dusty Hare last Saturday to a bad ankle injury that looks like it will keep him out six weeks, a great shame for the player as since his return he has been in outstanding form.
Saturday’s seventh consecutive league win meant the Maroons climbed up into second place in the league.
Pace-setters Hartlepool BBOB enjoyed an emphatic win against previously second placed South Tyneside College.
In other games, Whitby’s next opponents Seghill trounced Chester-le-Street, Newton Aycliffe beat Jarrovians, Yarm suffered a surprise defeat at Washington and Richmondshire and Houghton drew.