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Home > News > Westoe's weekend preview
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Your News Westoe's weekend preview
01
JAN

WESTOE face a tough challenge tomorrow when they travel to Mowden Park in the semi-final of the Durham Senior Cup.

The Darlington-based club are in prime form, having consolidated their second top place in National Three (North) on Saturday when they ran in ten tries to destroy visitors West Park St Helens 60-21.

It was their 15th win of the campaign, taking their points tally to 632 which is the highest in the division, and they now look certain to clinch the runners-up spot behind Tynedale, who have already secured the championship crown, and so have a play-off chance of promotion.

Not that Gareth Nesbits men will feel intimidated.

They have already seen off Fylde, currently in third top in Nation Three, who they beat 22-10 - albeit at Wood Terrace - in the second round of the EDF Energy National Trophy in November, the score line reflecting the true measure of the sides on the day.

And certainly they gave a very good account of themselves when they were drawn at home against Mowden Park last year, going down 29-22 after conceding a converted try in injury time when the referee either over-ruled or failed to heed the touch judges signal of a forward pass.

What is more, the Beacon Electrical (NE) Ltd-sponsored Shieldsmen, with seven successive North One victories under their belt, are now playing their best rugby of the season.

Said Nes: We always enjoy testing ourselves against opponents at a higher level than ourselves, and Mowden Park could be playing in National Two next season.

They are obviously a very good side and will have the home advantage, but we are in a pretty good groove at the moment and nobody should write us off.

It is rather fatuous that the semi-final is, in fact, the first round of what was until fairly recent times a competition that was entered with zeal by every club worth its salt in the county - the winning of the cup then being the height of their ambition.

Then a couple of decades ago came the inception of league rugby and priorities changed dramatically, teams increasingly conceding cup ties against palpably stronger opponents or if they just wanted to reduce the risk of injuries that might impair league performances.

So now only the four top achieving clubs of the previous season compete; Blaydon, the holders, and Darlington being the others contesting for a place in the final.

And even within such a small ensemble there have been two bizarre situations within vivid memory.

Three years ago the trophy was rather foisted on an inwardly reluctant Nesbit and somewhat to the embarrassment of some club officials after his side had been well and truly beaten 21-0 in the final by Darlington who were then disqualified for fielding an unauthorized player.

The following year Westoe, having played a thrilling 30-30 draw in the final against Blaydon in late May, conceded the replay in early August when Durham RFU snubbed a plea that because of holidays and other commitments they could not play a representative side.

But none of this should detract from what has the makings of a fine game of rugby tomorrow.

There is one matter about which Big Nes will have had a stern word: the number of yellow card offences committed in recent games. Four players were sin-binned in the last match against visitors Altrincham Kersal which meant for six crucial minutes in the last quarter his team were down to 13 men.

He said: It meant a much heavier load was imposed on players who were by then pretty tired anyway. That wasnt very clever and it is something about which we will have to wise up.

*Those wanting to watch Westoe sides in action must be prepared to travel. The Seconds play at Tynedale in both the Northumberland and Candy Leagues and the Thirds are also on league duty away to Prudhoe and Stocksfield.

*Houghton le Spring is the venue for Derek Tighes men in the final of the Durham Fourth Teams Shield against Blaydon on April 12 when they will be striving to win the handsome trophy for the seventh successive year.

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