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12
NOV

AFTER the euphoria of last week’s remarkable victory, Westoe will have their feet firmly on the ground when they run out at Cleckheaton on Saturday.

Following the 80-0 mauling that consigned a battered and bewildered Darlington to bottom spot in North One, captain Gareth Nesbit declared: “We will celebrate tonight, but then it’s back to business.”

And there is nowhere better than the West Yorkshire town to remind his side of the folly of not applying total concentration for the full 80-minutes.

For it was there last season that the Shieldsmen came away with a 29-all draw from a game they knew they would have won had not a couple of crucial first time tackles been missed and penalties carelessly conceded. .

Nes believes it was that sort of inconsistency which retarded their promising promotion chances during the past three seasons, but which, the chastening defeat at Hull apart, the team has overcome so far this season in which seven wins from the eight games has put them at the top of the table together with the Humbersiders.

He said: “It was down to naivety rather than lack of commitment. We spend two thirds of the year working hard for promotion and now we have realized how badly these lapses can hurt. We have learned not to make the same mistake again and that is a big positive.”

The wedding plans of all-action Kiwi flanker Kerry Wood means that he will miss this game and possibly a couple more. His considerable loss will be compensated by the return of Jonathon Okwe-Pearson, a back row man of similar tenacious ilk.

Although the make up of the side has not yet been decided, it looks likely that Peter Nichols, normally a speedy and clever-footed scrum half who had a fine game on the left wing on Saturday, will again wear the number 11 jersey.

And John Cloak, who impressed very much when he made his debut at full back from the bench, must be in contention to start this time.

The destruction of Darlington has inevitably raised the questions: have Dunes Adventure Island-sponsored Westoe ever had a greater points-scoring spree and, if so, when?

The answer is yes, and the last occasion was not so long ago, but because it was a friendly game to fill a vacant date it seems largely to have been forgotten. It happened in November, 2003, when the Shieldsmen gave Gosforth an 83-12 walloping.

Flying winger Paul Hagan’s contribution to the debacle was to score five tries and kick nine conversions, while Ryan Beattie, on the opposite flank, also made hay by touching down four times.

Wood Terrace elders recall a far greater humiliation back in the early 1970s when Westoe beat host team Hartlepool Athletic 100-0 in an early round of the Durham Senior Cup which was then coveted and fought for by every team worth its salt in the county.

Club stalwart Ken Younger, who was a linesman that day, recalled: “News of it spread quickly and local newspapers began to ’phone the clubhouse. Their captain fled but everyone else stayed and the hospitality was terrific. We had a smashing evening.”

But nobody can remember anything to quite match Saturday‘s result in a competitive game since the inception of league rugby in 1987.

Two notable victories came close to it in Westoe’s golden season five years ago when they were North Two (East) champions and reached the final of the Intermediate Cup at Twickenham where, though beaten 21-11 by Morley, they emerged with honour and pride intact.

The first was at a mist-shrouded Horden in October when the home team capitulated to a 76-11 defeat when no less than nine Shieldsmen got their name on the score sheet, and the second five weeks later when visitors Stockton got a 75-5 drubbing.

*If something seems just a little odd when Westoe take to the field this month, study the players’ upper lip and you should detect a few burgeoning moustaches as part of a hirsute bid to make cash for medical charities - the idea of winger Willy Moala.

Club stewardess Jan Robertson will award two jugs of beer to the one judged to have the finest at a social evening in the clubhouse after the home game against Sheffield Tigers on November 29. Tickets will be on sale behind the bar.

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