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Home > News > Northern U15 57 - Westoe U15 10
Your News Northern U15 57 - Westoe U15 10

Northern claim the scalp of Durham champions

Westoe, a side we had never met in 8 years of mini and junior rugby, but a team we knew intimately by reputation and results. One of the most potent forces in junior rugby in Durham, always competing ardently for the County crown, with a track record of good play and uncompromising physicality.

This was to be an utmost test for the Northern enclave, but one which we relished and approached with adrenalin fuelled anticipation. The Dean Road Westoe ground, a sporting oasis tucked away in the suburbs of South Sheilds, and cosy, log planked changing rooms more akin to lumberjacks than lock forwards, provided the setting for this Sunday morning matinee.

Chris Smith was unavailable due to a school match injury and Adam Pearson had an ear infection giving us a couple of last minute selection machinations. Alex Foster reverted to his role at prop, and Lewis Mackie started on the left wing, salivating with prospect of reaching the nirvana of the Westoe in goal area. Matthew Haigh and James Carrick, playing at stand off and inside centre, brought back memories of a back line combination of yesteryear when as callow youths in tagged waistbands they had plied their innocent trade. Today would they relive those boyish memories?

Northern had the advantage of the first half slope and within 3 minutes, Matthew Haigh had a sublime “show and go” creating the line for Ollie Walker to gain ground and take the ball into contact on the Westoe 5 metre line over on the right. Owen Hollins, so much more streamlined with his new, more tonsured coiffure, was on hand and almost made the line, but fast ball was delivered with alacrity for a rumbustious Adam Walker to bristle his way to the line. No histrionics here, just a Grant Batty• like strut back to the halfway line. Conversion missed, but a 5-0 lead and a businesslike start to Northern’s score sheet.

• Grant Batty? – If not old enough to remember, check out You Tube 1973 Barbarians versus New Zealand All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park.

Westoe came straight back after the restart. They intercepted a pass in midfield and caused some desperate defending within the Northern 22. An attempted kick was charged down and Westoe were awarded a penalty for offside. It was taken quickly, spread right and the Durham flier touched down in the corner to equal the scores with 7 minutes gone. No conversion 5 – 5.

A few minutes of of each side assessing capabilities ensued, highlighted by a couple of magic moments by the rapidly maturing James “The Thinker” Carrick. Perhaps not the quickest on the pitch with a body weighed down by all that grey matter, he does nevertheless possess the best timed pass in the team, always committing the tackler before releasing.

Until now Hugh Mongan, a local lad, playing in front of an adoring entourage of female gymnasts, had resisted the opportunity to display his wares, but on 16 minutes he cast modesty aside and broke from the back of a scrum on the Westoe 22. The South Shields air resonated with the thudded slap of his initial hand off. Four weeks ago I had trudged my way through the Nook in the final throes of the Great North Run when the Red Arrows had ripped disdainfully through the sea air in Mackemland. The audible impact was no less impressive. 10 – 5 and we were fronting up to the Westoe physicality.

On 23 minutes, a Westoe forward was yellow carded by the referee for using his studs in a ruck to play Noughts and Crosses on Harry Thorpe’s cranium. Now we had to take advantage of this indiscipline. A penalty tap by Matthew Lowes saw Hugh Mongan once again beat a path through the Westoe tentacles to touch down over on the right. No conversion 15 – 5.

The home No 10, who by now should have known better, kicked off towards Hugh, who profiting from a kind bounce, accepted the gift with good grace and accelerated into the fast lane down the Westoe left channel. Hugh went past me with almost a rabid look in his eye. From 50 yards away the try line must have looked as wide as the South Shields beach. Will Lawton, in a superb support role bellowed his presence, but the Boldon Bolt was already there to post his third try under the sticks, duly converted by Matthew Haigh. 22 -5 after 26 minutes.

Then an episode of Adamesque precocity. Jake, picking up at the base of a ruck on the left of the Westoe 22, just shimmied and pouted his way through a gap in the home team’s defence, gaining 15 metres. His way to the line now blocked, he prompted the waiting Lewis Mackie, who accepted his cue, entered stage left, and did not forget his lines as he plummeted towards the whitewash in a tousled tangle. A shriek of Northern Irish paternal pride pierced the South Shields Sunday atmosphere, and startled seagulls were seen heading towards the cooling seafront comfort of a stolen Minchella’s ice cream cornet. A fantastic conversion from the left hand touchline by Ollie Walker extended the lead to 29 -5.

Halftime and an opportunity to catch our breath. Westoe were in unaccustomed territory, and we knew they would come back at us with aggressive gusto. However, we still had a 15 to 14 man advantage for 3 or 4 minutes more.

Within a minute Westoe had conceded a penalty for offside. A quick tap was fed to Hugh Mongan, by now imperious. The defence parted like the Dead Sea and a try under the posts was easily converted by Ollie Walker. 36 -5.

Then, 120 seconds later, in almost a repeat of the previous try, Matthew Lowes slipped the sacred orb to the Trymaster Hugh and another score was posted, Hugh’s 5th of the day, with a conversion by Ollie. 43 – 5.

By now, Westoe were back to a full contingent, but in the ten minutes their man had been off the field, they had conceded 5 tries. Surely a painful lesson in maintaining on field discipline.

6 minutes into the second half saw the locks, Will Lawton and Owen Hollins, replaced by the new combination of Dom Agnew and Graham Dutton. Westoe, playing with the slope and with undoubted injured pride, made a concerted effort to redress some of the balance. For 15 minutes this was their best period of the game. Northern defended with spirited resistance, Alex Foster particularly making some big hits in midfield. Westoe, however, persisted and after much effort got a deserved pushover try in the right corner. Not converted. 43 – 10.

This, however, marked the end of their fightback. Dom Agnew almost made the line, but Ollie Walker, playing well all day, scored a powerful try after a penalty for a high tackle on Hugh Mongan, which he converted himself.

Then to round off a masterful performance, Max did what only Max can do and released himself from the cloying shackles of outreached hands to scorch to the line and score under the posts. He completed the rout with his own drop kick conversion to make it 55 -10.

The referee, sympathetically, brought the game to a premature end and Northern had left an indelible stamp of Northumbrian junior rugby in South Tyneside territory.

Once again, great individual performances, but a superb team effort. The forwards had not given an inch in physical confrontation and the backs had combined unselfishly to produce the Northern brand of flowing rugby.

Final score: 57 - 10


Hugh Mongan………………………..5

Adam Walker………………………..1

Lewis Mackie………………………..1

Max Antons…………………………..1

Ollie Walker…………………………..1


Matthew Haigh……………………….1

Ollie Walker…………………………..4

Max Antons…………………………..1

Man of the Match: James Carrick

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