Title despair - but Whitby Maroons still up

Gordon Bland lands the try which took Whitby Maroons to within a point of leaders BBOB'picture: Brian Murfield
Gordon Bland lands the try which took Whitby Maroons to within a point of leaders BBOB'picture: Brian Murfield

On a very blustery day at the Showfield, the largest crowd for many years saw the already promoted top two in the league slug it out with the title at stake.

Losing the toss, Whitby played with a very strong wind at their backs in the first half.

Disaster struck for the home side on five minutes when talismanic pack leader Matt Russell had to leave the field with a pulled calf muscle, with his absence having a destabilising effect on the pack.

But the Maroons opened the scoring when the returning Shane Young did really well to bullock over from short range.

Maroons did not deal with the following kick-off and the ball bounced into touch for BBOB to turn over the line-out and equalise immediately.

BBOB were now playing well, inspired by their excellent number 10 and they added another score to lead 10-5.

Anth Craig pulled off a fantastic cover tackle to stop the lead being extended further.

More bad news was on the way as leading try scorer Dave Straker limped off with a hamstring pull.

Turning to face the fierce wind, it was never going to be easy and BBOB extended their lead with two more penalties.

The Maroons brought on Christian Pollock and he immediately brought about an improvement in play with his long elusive runs from full back.

A good passing move from Whitby saw Joe Lenton do brilliantly to score in the corner and then outstanding scrum half Gordon Bland scored a fine individual try to make the score 15 -16.

Unfortunately the relatively easy conversion was missed and the Maroons remained one point behind.

BBOB were using the wind well and two more excellent penalties from their number 10 sealed their win.

The visitors were better in scrums and line-outs and deserved their victory.

In Gareth Foreman, they had a high quality player who controlled the game and pushed Whitby back continuously.

The Maroons will rue missing three very easy kicks which could have brought eight points but ultimately the best team on the day won and the home side’s set piece work was not good enough.

The match was followed by a presentation to physio Karen Parkin, who is retiring after 16 years of sterling service.

Whitby Gazette man of the match: Gordon Bland.

Match sponsor: Astins.

* Maroons conclude their Durham and Northumberland 3 programme tomorrow when they entertain South Tyneside College, 3pm kick-off.

Whitby Maroons 15

Hartlepool BBOB 22