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Westcliff's relegation fight gets shot in arm
WESTCLIFF breathed life back into their survival hopes by winning 35-19 at Staines in National Three London & SE.
Westcliff went into the game without a win since October and having suffered 10 successive defeats.
And first team manager Rick Compton was therefore delighted to see his side get back to winning ways, despite not being at their best.
“The lads have played much better than this and lost in recent weeks, but credit goes to them for getting the result we needed,” said Compton.
“We have given ourselves a chance to avoid relegation at the end of the season and a platform to build on in the weeks to come.
“The players enjoyed that winning feeling again and are hungry for more of it, but they must address their discipline.
“Petulance and blatant infringements detracted from the team performance and any other club in this division would have extracted a higher price.
“Nevertheless, confidence has been restored as we prepare for home games against two of the league’s high-flying form sides in the next two weeks.”
Westcliff were on top right from the start and, after missing an early penalty, the game was still only a few minutes old when fly half Ben Jones placed a probing kick behind the Staines defensive line and ever alert winger Greg Bannister touched down.
Ben McKeith converted to make it 7-0 before the fly-half was released under the posts after a swift interchange of passes.
He quickly added the extras as he did again when further speedy raids resulted in full back Hayden Whelan scoring under the posts to put Westcliff 21-0 in front at half-time.
Westcliff continued to dominate the scoring opportunities after the break and although Staines were competing strongly at the break down and contact areas, they soon secured the bonus point for try scoring when Bannister went over for his second try, which was converted.
Whelan secured a second try when he spun out of a tackle and arrowed through a gap from 20 metres out and the lead was extended to 35-0.
At this point with the final quarter to come Staines looked well beaten and dejected.
However they were rewarded for some good work when their lively and experienced open side finished a move which allowed the hosts to gallop in.
A small consolation it seemed but an inexplicable and wholly unnecessary lapse in discipline resulted in two yellow cards for Westcliff and the complexion of the game changed.
Down to 14 men and with the necessary personnel change in the front row, Staines disrupted and turned over a scrum, breaking down the blind side and scoring near the posts to cut Westcliff’s lead to 35-14.
Staines scored again in the corner at which point Westcliff picked up a further unnecessary card to take them down to 13 men.
But they held Staines at arm’s length until they were restored to 14 and forced two kickable penalties, the second of which McKeith converted with the last kick of the game to make the final score 38-19.