WESTCLIFF stayed in the final relegation spot after losing 32-23 at local rivals Thurrock.

The game was keenly contested from the outset with both teams keen to put recent poor results behind them and produce the win needed to move away from the foot of the table.

But it was Thurrock who came out on top, to condemn Westcliff to an eighth successive defeat.

Westcliff were on top early on though and two penalties from Chris Dudman in the opening quarter gave them an early lead.

After 23 minutes, scrum half Jones then exploited a gap from a line-out and scurried through it to touch down under the posts to extend Westcliff’s lead 13-0.

Thurrock responded well, as was to be expected, but Westcliff handed them territorial possession and momentum with a poor break down of discipline.

As a result the experienced Kellard was able to score under the posts from close range after a scrum on the Westcliff line and the lead was reduced to 13-7.

But Westcliff returned to Thurrock territory as half time approached and Dudman converted a further penalty to hand the visitors a 16-7 lead at the break.

Westcliff introduced Jim Smith and Kostas Dellas from the bench at half time to invigorate their challenge, but, just as at the start of the first half, their plans were disrupted when Smith had to be withdrawn almost immediately after picking up an injury.

This appeared to upset the tempo of the visitors and it was during this vital third quarter that the home team established a lead with short-range forward tries by their back row, which were both converted and supplemented by a penalty by the home full back Frankie Neale.

Now 24-16 down Westcliff were desperate to take the game back to Thurrock and reassert themselves, but instead a swift counter attack with the ball moved effectively wide and allowed winger Farrell to touch down in the corner a split second before being bundled out of play.

However, Westcliff returned to Thurrock territory and Gus Martyn drove straight through the home defence to score a fine try that Dudman converted.

That made it game on once more with a little under 10 minutes to go, but another penalty from Neale sealed victory for Thurrock, while also denying Westcliff a losing bonus point.

And that frustrated their first team manager Rick Compton.

“Having carved out an early lead and given their position we cannot be anything other than disappointed to come out of the game with nothing,” said Compton.

“Although injuries disrupted the team at key moments there will be no desperate search for excuses. On the day we were not quite good enough and poor discipline undid good work.”

Westcliff: Whelan, Dudman, Bard, Harvey, Jones, McKeith, B Jones, McKean, Martyn, Scoggins, Edwards, S Jones, Binneman, Redding, Jack Smith. Replacements: James Smith, Dellas & Reynolds.