Novos 0, Westoe 40 - Completely Mauled in Second Half
By Magnus Leask
Westoe scored 33 unanswered points in the second half to knock Novos out of the National Cup.
We had been looking forward to this game after our away win at Old Rishworthians set up this winner take all match.
Early exchanges were balanced as Westoe carried into us as we chopped them down. With the wind behind us Rich Harrison and Ben Wollerton put in some clever kicks so we could camp in Westoe's 22m. Our opponents tried to run out of danger but we got stuck in and showed we were up for the gain line battle.
Errors were preventing us from turning pressure into points as we lost a couple of early line outs - missing vital opportunities to drive at the Westoe line and made some unforced handling errors. However, we did have them rattled as Chris Ward spoiled their line outs and we tackled well. We were definitely getting under their skin and copped a few high tackles and a bad late hit that were penalised.
All of the missed chances kept Westoe in the half and it was their turn to attack. After some strong carries the Westoe 8 crashed over for a converted try although he probably should've been doing time in the bin rather than scoring. Westoe 7-0.
Novos bounced back and ended the half applying more pressure. First Ben Wollerton broke down the field after some smart handling by Alex Cleminson and Darren Kelly. Then Paddy Sowter danced about leading to a break by Adam McDonald. Again, we made a handling error after being in behind them. A hit after the whistle caused some verbals and both captains were spoken to. The behaviour by both groups on the side line was pretty poor during this incident.
Half time arrived with Westoe up 7-0. Kit Sorenson on for Alex Cleminson and Brendan Thomas replacing Zach Weatherhead.
The second half was a repeat of the first as errors cost us dearly. Josh Stacey made a great 20m carry only for the ball to be put down in the backs without being under pressure. Westoe accepted possession gratefully and after a series of carries they scored out wide. Westoe 14-0.
Things got worse as Lewis Chater was felled by a big hit - he felt it was a shoulder to his jaw but it happened so fast it was hard to tell. On came Nick Bellamy in his place.
Westoe were now playing with confidence and started to control the gain line. They drove into our 22m but were penalised for taking out a player off the ball. More handbags as our lads were getting frustrated with the amount of foul play. Yellow card issued for the illegal clear out.
Our opponents despite being a man down dominated possession and schooled us in the ability of keeping the ball. They scored a good try after carrying hard and off loading accurately. Then they scored an incredibly soft one straight from the kick off. Suddenly it was 28-0 and the game seemed gone despite such a positive first 50 mins.
We tried everything to get back into the match but perhaps forced things and continued to make handling errors. Westoe did receive another yellow card after a high tackle but were still able to dominate the closing proceedings. They drove in two tries before the end of the game to make the final score 40-0.
We wish Westoe well in the next round of the cup and hopefully we learnt a lot from you in regards to how well you value possession. You have been beyond our ability in the latter 30 mins of both fixtures.
Thank you to Richard Gates for reffing the match - it wasn't easy as it was a brutal first 50 mins with both sides engaged in verbals on and off the field. It was great to speak openly about the game afterwards as I was amazed at how much foul play Westoe got away with. In particular, one of their players attacked the head on several occasions, delivered a very late hit and got away with a head butt. Shame, as the other 35 lads were having an enjoyable afternoon of rugby.
Novos boys - pleased with the first 50 mins in terms of effort and attitude but we had a real off day with our handling. A few forced errors by strong Westoe defence but a lot of ball wasted for no real reason. We must learn from Westoe in regards to their ability to keep the ball for long periods but I could not fault our heart.
Rest week next Saturday before returning to play at Hartlepool Rovers. We look assured of a top six finish - a great effort given the injury plagued season we have had. Need to finish strong and start planning for trying to move into the top four next season !
Up the Vos !