A very much in-form third placed South Shields Westoe were the visitors to Grangefield this afternoon, as Stockton were looking to get their season back on track after three successive defeats.
A bright and breezy spring day greeted the teams as they ran out onto a pitch in excellent condition ( a tribute to Groundsman Alistair Johnson who has unfortunately recently broken a leg. Get well soon).
If Stockton were looking for inspiration to get them back to winning ways , it came from Skipper Charlie Doherty who received the kick off and made a 40 metre break to put his team on the front foot.
Stockton were having much of the early play and it was no surprise, when, on the tenth minute a quick passing movement across the pitch gave left wing Tom Lloyd the opportunity to outpace the defence and score wide out. The conversion was missed, but Stockton were ahead 5-0.
Both sides were trying to play open rugby in the favourable conditions, and on 20 minutes Stockton doubled their lead after playing a penalty advantage. Inside Centre Steve Tampin cross kicked to the right and the ball was well caught by right wing Joe Hargreaves, who made good ground before passing inside to outside centre Jonny Horner who crossed for an unconverted try on the right. Stockton 10, Westoe 0.
Two successful penalty kicks on 26 and 35 minutes followed from Jonny Horner, and despite considerable Westoe pressure the teams went to the break with the score Stockton 16, Westoe 0.
The visitors opened the second half strongly and were now getting the majority of possession. Injuries to Hooker Sean Wallace and Flanker Josh Wilson were making things difficult, and 17 year old James Underwood came on for his 1st team debut until he too suffered an injury – to his ankle. But Stockton held out until the 66th minute when the visitors crossed tor an unconverted try. Stockton 16, Westoe 5.
After 72 minutes Westoe we’re still pressing and looking likely to score when Stockton Fly Half Richie Young put in a long kick out of defence that caught the strong cross wind. The kick return from Westoe was poor and Stockton went straight onto the attack, resulting in centre Jonny Horner crossing for a try on the right. Horner added the extras and with the score at 23-5 the result was in the bag.
Stockton were still pushing for their bonus point fourth try of the afternoon and it came with 3 minutes of the game left when scrum half Tom Brown crossed in the corner. Stockton 28, Westoe 5.
There was just time for Westoe to score their second try of the afternoon, with a driving maul from a lineout. The conversion made the final score Stockton 28, Westoe 12.
Following a heavy defeat at League Leaders Northern last week, this was the perfect way for Stockton to return to form.
Man of the Match was Charlie Doherty for an outstanding all round 80 minute effort.
IN A FORTNIGHT’S TIME 26/3 STOCKTON VISIT SUNDERLAND