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02
MAY

THE relegation-doomed Lions had been keen to skip this trip to Tyneside.

And after a 16-try walloping that may have created club history at Westoe they will doubtless be in no hurry to return.

An off-the-field drama had unfolded on Friday when Rugby, short of players at the fag end of what has for them been a wretched National 2 North campaign, sought to concede the game.

If Westoe officials were surprised and dismayed, league administrators were horrified - and made it clear that if the fixture was not fulfilled the Midlanders would risk beginning next season in a lower division stripped of a punitive number of points.

So a squad of just 16 reluctantly made the 200-mile journey up the M1, which included the front row and eight others who the previous week had given runaway champions Fylde a fright before slipping to defeat late on.

And on Harton Technical Colleges all-weather pitch - Wood Terrace now being in possession of cricketers - they got a roasting on a warm, sun-splashed afternoon.

The debacle began with a 5m scrum in the fourth minute when the home pack announced its dominance by driving over, number 8 Ben Morris touching down.

Just seven minutes later the excellent Morris completed his hat-trick taking an off-load from winger Gareth Kerr who had split the defence with a 30m dash and in so doing earning his side the four-try bonus point, full back Scott Jordan having also got in on the act.

And the Lions misery ended just before the final whistle when, appropriately, it was fly half David Haswell, such a pivotal figure in Westoes remarkable upward spiral, who sped over to bring up the 100th point and then kicked his fifth conversion.

Between times, the Dunes Adventure Island-sponsored Shieldsmen, in fourth top spot, played like a team believing they can still steal the runners-up place against the odds and with it a play-off shot at promotion.

With dominant forwards providing plenty of ball to fast and incisive backs, holes were torn in the Lions defence, man of the match Morris gathering a fourth try and Jordan, who kicked the first six conversions, winger Bradley Pears and replacement winger Chris Laycock collecting a pair apiece.

Kerr, hooker Rob Adair, flanker Haydn Richards, lock Iain Robinson and replacement centre Derek White also joined in the scoring jamboree.

The Lions, much to their credit, also played an open game and oft time showed their claws. But they met a defensive blockade and had only a penalty by centre Alex Stevenson to show for it.

Afterwards, director of rugby Andy Howells said: It was a super squad performance in which everyone played their part.

Their spirit after a such a hard season is heart-warming and we will take it with us to the end.

Bad news was that rivals Loughborough Students, predictably, gave basement club Manchester a 92-0 hiding, and Leicester Lions also had a five-point win, albeit narrowly 35-30 against visitors Luctonians.

Sad, too, that 19-year-old flanker Joe Maw, who has much impressed, was replaced after just two minutes with a recurring back injury that is likely to sideline him for the last two games.

*Many bygone deeds in Westoes 136-year history are lost in the mists of time, but the clubs greybeards can recall just one previous occasion when (exactly) 100 points were scored and that was in a mis-matched Durham Senior Cup tie against Hartlepool Athletic in the early 1980s.

 

 

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