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10
APR

WESTOE began in rollicking style and had the maximum five points pretty well in the bag with a four-try blitz in the first quarter of an hour.

And when they were 43-3 ahead soon after half time it looked altogether too good to be true against opponents everybody knew were made of far sterner stuff.

So it turned out to be.

Suddenly, Luctonians, who had shown flashes of their true worth, clicked into gear and what had been a walk in the park for the Shieldsmen became an uphill slog.

They were then, of course, much too far ahead to be caught, and maybe some complacency had crept in, but for the last half hour it was the visitors who looked the side with promotion in their sights.

It was as well for Westoe that they had already clinched victory, for both Leicester Lions and Loughborough Students - their fierce rivals for the National 2 North runners-up spot - had convincing wins.

Indeed, the Students, next weeks visiting opponents, inflicted a 42-22 defeat on runaway leaders Fylde.

Luctonians deserve credit for agreeing to play the game on Harton Technical Colleges all-weather pitch after it was switched from Wood Terrace - shared with South Shields Cricket Club - because of a pre-season inspection by cricket league officials.

And it was they who opened the scoring in the first minute when fly half Lucas Roy-Smith kicked a penalty.

But Dunes Adventure Island-sponsored Westoe responded immediately with an attack down the left flank, the ball spinning through sure hands to right winger Gareth Kerr who darted over in the right corner.

The home team pack took complete control, powerful drives enabling number 8 Ben Morris and flanker Jonathan Okwe-Pearson to touch down, fly half Mark Bedworth kicking the first of his four conversions.

Then it was the turn of the backs to flaunt their skills, full back Charlie Rayner darting over in the 15th minute for the bonus try and centre James Clark and Bedworth combining deftly for left winger Scott Jordan to finish the job.

On the cusp of half time flanker John Younghusband burst over to make it 38-3 and put the result beyond reasonable doubt.

Immediately after the resumption an inch-perfect chip ahead by scrum half Chris Judson on the 22 gave Kerr a clear run to touch down and soon after prop and captain Gareth Nesbit was driven over from a 5 metre lineout.

But squeezed between these two tries was the first sign of a Luctonian revival when it was the turn of their forwards to flex their muscles and a many-phased pick-and-drive attack on the Westoe line ended with prop Anthony Marfell going over.

And as mistakes and uncertainly marred the hosts game it was more pack power that enabled flankers Ben James and then Nathan Roy-Smith to score with brother Lucas completing a hat-trick of conversions.

Afterwards director of rugby Andy Howells said: It was a terrific performance in the first half which enabled me to give all our replacements a good run out. Now bring on Loughborough!

*The Seconds ended their Candy League programme by also running in eight tries in a 52-5 demolition job on visitors Middlesbrough who were outclassed in every department.

Teenage scrum half Michael Booth notched a hat-trick and other try scorers were Chris Laycock (2), centre Richard Burrows, flanker Haydn Richards and winger Jack Hope, with Laycock kicking six conversions.

*The Thirds were left high and dry for the sixth time this season when Houghton cried off on Friday night - a shabby reward for the efforts that club stalwarts Ian Booth and Mark Mackay have put in to revive the teams fortunes.

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