Lookers sponsored Westoe kicked off this season with a comfortable victory against Novos.
Playing against the breeze, it took only three minutes before the first score. After some lively interplay between the backs and forwards, Novos entered the maul from the side and Westoe kicked to the corner. A well taken catch and drive saw Sam Gaff crossing. 7-0
Novos retaliated with a penalty for a high tackle. 7-3
Dominating in the set-piece, the Westoe pack destroyed Novos’ scrum on the line, and loose ball was collected by centre Derek Worthington, who scored in the corner after twelve minutes. 12-3
An exchange of penalties took the score to 15-6 before a repeat show of force in the scrum saw Westoe once again push Novos’ scrum back over the line; this time John Younghusband diving onto the loose ball. 22-6
Thirty-five minutes in, showed that Westoe could also score in open play, with both forwards and backs interpassing their way 80m upfield. Sam Gaff sped almost the last 40m; however was hauled down near the line with clear support out wide. The score still came with quick re-cycled ball to Jamie Preston, who scored in the corner for the bonus point try. 27-6
Second half saw more of the same. The Novos’ side never gave up; however had no answer for the powerful home pack.
After seven minutes, another strong scrum saw Gaff pick from the base and offload to Sean Ramsay who fed Mark ‘Sparky’ McMahon who went in for his first of the day.
McMahon, is a welcome to return to Westoe, after returning to the area from University and re-joining his first club, where he played his Junior rugby before a spell in the Falcon’s Academy.
Fourteen minutes in and a stolen line-out by Younghusband set up Westoe’s fifth. Younghusband handed the ball to scrum-half Michael Booth, who returned the favour for Younghusband to cross for his second.39-6
Jamie Preston crossed for his second after a fine display of straight running and basic hands from a back-line now firing on all cylinders from the quick, clean ball provided by the pack.44-6
Two more scrums and two more tries finished the day’s tally for Westoe.
The first, another steal, Younghusband, stealing; Captain Andy Kirton driving the hard yards and an offload to McMahon, who took a sublime line to dissect the Novos defence, 51-6
McMahon took his hatrick after replacement scrum-half, Connor Pascoe provided quick accurate ball to fly-half Jake Arnold who fed Sparky for his third and last of the day for Westoe. 56-6
Westoe certainly took there foot off the gas for the last fifteen minutes and lost a lot of shape and composure as individuals became a little over-ambitious; however this was an overall fine display for the first game of the season.
Still with a team who are predominately home-grown Westoe Juniors, they are displaying that building from within and maintaining a community ethos can still produce a high standard of play.
Pleasing to see that four of the nine tries scored came directly from turnover set-piece play, showing that the Westoe pack is carrying on where it left off last year, and a new-look back line showed some devastating form despite missing two of last season’s most influential players.
Great to see the return of McMahon from University, Richard Burrows from long-term injuries and new centre Sutherland, who has joined the club from Blythe.
The West Nautical Development team also hit the season on a high, winning their opener against Bishop Auckland 29-7.
Westoe face Durham City next week in what should be a stern test of progress to date.