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Home > News > Westoe Weekend Preview
Your News Westoe Weekend Preview

AFTER the distraction of cup rugby, it is back to the hard graft of league fare for Westoe with a cross-country trip to West Park St Helens.

The Lancastrians were hard hit by a mass desertion of players after demotion from National Three - surely there’s a moral there - and are currently languishing at the foot of North One having lost all five games so far.

The tally of points scored and conceded - 25 against 147 - tells its own tale of woe. But in the last game a fortnight ago they went down only 14 - 6 to visitors Morley in a hard and closely fought contest.

So perhaps the signs of a revival are there and certainly there will be no soft pedaling by the Dunes Adventure Island-sponsored Shieldsmen who are riding high second top of the table among five teams who each have four victories in the bag.

Last Saturday captain Gareth Nesbit came off the bench to take up his normal loose head prop position only in the last few minutes of his side’s 47-17 EDF Energy National Trophy win at Bedford Athletic because front row man Moa Souter was sin-binned.

It was intended that he did not play at all - with centre David Haswell assuming the captaincy - as the coaches wanted to experiment and also see how the team got along without his ever-reliable and rallying presence in the number one jersey.

But he made it clear there will be no such improvisation tomorrow as Westoe resume their pursuit of promotion to the National ranks which has just eluded them in the past three seasons.

Nes declared: “That was the cup, now we must kick on. We will be putting out our strongest side to try to make sure we come home with the two points in the bag.

“West Park will be desperate for their first win and that will make them more dangerous. We expect it to be a physical, aggressive and keenly-fought match which is alright by us.

“We have found that if you front it up physically from the start the points will follow. If you don’t, it can be a long afternoon. Our best results have come when we have asserted ourselves robustly early on.”

He admitted that so far this season Westoe have not got their game fully together.

For instance, despite their obvious superiority from the start on Saturday, it was just before half-time that they managed to put a cohesive move together and that resulted in left winger Craig Olugbode touching down.

After some tough talking during the interval, they came out an altogether different side that overwhelmed the opposition as they ran in five more tries.

However, Nesbit pointed out that in three of the last four games - against Middlesbrough and Stockport as well as Bedford Athletic - his side have run up more than 40 points. The odd game out was a 36-8 win against visitors West Hartlepool.

As he said: “We must be doing something right.”

The good news is that prop Nigel Douglas (mumps), versatile back Graeme Haswell (knee) and, depending on a late fitness test, full back David Richardson ( torn ligament) have recovered and are back in the squad.

The bad news is that flanker Jamie Smith, who had just deservedly broken onto the First XV scene, could face an operation for a shoulder injury sustained on Saturday and prop Keiran McKeown, another cup tie casualty, is sidelined with a damaged knee.

*A nice touch last Saturday when Fourth team captain Mark Morris relinquished his side’s right - as the only senior XV with a home fixture - to play at Wood Terrace and, instead, allowed the Colts to play there against Under-18 League opponents Carlisle.

Mark, whose team beat Ryton Thirds 43-26 in a Northumberland League match on the alternative pitch at Oakleigh Gardens, said: “These boys are the club’s future and so are pretty special. I thought it was important they were made to feel special.“

Raymond Bays, manager of the Colts who won 32-15, said: “It was a very fine and thoughtful gesture which gave the lads a sense of status.”

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