Whitby Maroons beat Bishop to wrap up promotion to Division One

The Whitby RUFC Maroons celebrate a try during their 47-19 win at home to Bishop Auckland on Saturday that sealed promotion from Durham Northumberland Division Two  '''Pictures by Jenny Brown-Wood
The Whitby RUFC Maroons celebrate a try during their 47-19 win at home to Bishop Auckland on Saturday that sealed promotion from Durham Northumberland Division Two '''Pictures by Jenny Brown-Wood

Whitby RUFC Maroons beat Bishop Auckland 47-19 on Saturday to wrap up promotion to Durham Northumberland One.

Bishop Auckland kicked off with the elements to their advantage and for the first 10 minutes Whitby struggled to get out of their own half, with the much larger visiting pack putting the hosts under pressure and forcing them into mistakes.

Whitby managed to weather the storm and slowly began to make inroads into the Bishop Auckland territory before stand-in second row Justin Mayne crashed over to make it 7-0 to the hosts.

Whitby struck quickly after the re-start with clever play from scrum-half David Bland putting the ball into space for the Whitby backs to chase and full-back Stu Gregson put Whitby 12-0 up.

Bishop Auckland forced their way back into the game when a series of Whitby penalties gave them a line-out five metres from the Whitby line and the well-drilled visiting pack rumbled their way over to make the score 12-7 to the home side.

Whitby were given the chance to extend their lead when an infringement from the kick-off let Gregson kick a penalty to give Whitby some breathing space at 15-7.

The hosts further extended their lead when rampaging number-eight Jack Braithwaite barged his way over the line for an unconverted try before Stu Gregson slotted another penalty before half-time for 23-7.

Spurred on by the huge crowd, Whitby turned around at half-time and started the same way as they had finished with a pinpoint kick-off being regathered by Callum Smith, who fed second row Dan Marsay to set the ball up for Braithwaite to bundle over the put the score to 30-7.

Whitby then switched off and allowed Bishop Auckland to score a converted try and make it 30-14.

Around the 60-minute mark, Bishop Auckland began to tire with the front row of Oliver Telfer, Nathan Kaz and Bruce Reed coming to the fore at the scrum and the ever-destructive Connor

Clements stopping Bishop Auckland from gaining any first-phase possession and allowed returning captain Gordon Bland to make the score 35-14.

A five-minute blitz started with winger John Hatton finding space down the wing before feeding the creative centre partnership of George Reeves and Connor Clennan, who combined to put winger Jamie Allison through in the corner for a 42-14 advantage.

Top-scorer Sam Webster finished off a fine breakaway try to make the score 47-14 before Bishop managed a consolation score to make the score 47-19 at full-time, handing the hosts their promotion.

The men of the match were Marsay and Clennan.

Delighted head coach Steve Allen said: “After a long, physically demanding season we are delighted to earn promotion to Durham Northumberland Division One.

“We always had faith in our ability even though we were not favoured to gain promotion to Division One for the first time since 1999.

“We are a young team of local lads who all take great pride in representing our town.

“The development of the team in the last two years is unbelievable and I am proud of their progress and what we have achieved.

“We know the challenge ahead will be tough against some very big clubs but we look forward to it and the players will certainly be fully committed to survival next season.”