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Westcliff Rugby Club breathe life back in to fight against relegation
WESTCLIFF breathed life back in to their fight against relegation with an impressive 39-5 win against Guernsey.
Westcliff went into the game with 13 defeats from their last 14 National Three London & SE outings.
But they were back on form at the weekend and are now six points from safety with five games to go.
Westcliff’s confidence will also have been boosted by the victory, which came in a bad-tempered encounter.
Two red and five yellow cards were shown during the match, but it was Westcliff who went in front early on with a penalty from Ben McKeith.
That lead soon became 10-0 when tight-head prop Ewan Binneman touched down and McKeith kicked the resulting conversion.
However, McKeith was soon shown a yellow card and, in the 21st minute, an ugly disagreement resulted in a player from both sides being dismissed.
Although numbers were equal, Westcliff, having lost their hooker, found it a little harder to adapt.
Their set piece, lineout and scrum struggled for a while and during this period the visitors kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit at 10-3.
The home team responded well though and enterprising play released Dave Cosgrove into a gap in front of the posts that he fully exploited from deep and Westcliff enjoyed a 17-3 half-time lead.
As the second half commenced it was clear the next score would be pivotal and Guernsey hit the ground running.
But McKeith soon leapt to intercept a speculative pass and set off down the pitch to score under the posts from deep with his own half.
At 24-3 Westcliff were dominating the scoreboard and were able to do the same with territory and procession.
It was therefore no surprise when increasing desperation from the visitors resulted in a yellow card for James Regnard, their impressive centre, or indeed when Westcliff were able to press home the numerical advantage when McKeith finished off a sweeping move to take his personal points tally to 19 and the home lead to 29-3.
With 15 minutes to go the game was clearly won and a try-scoring bonus point had been secured.
Guernsey were able to cross the line for a consolation try and asserted some pressure in the game’s dying moments and although poor discipline led to two yellow cards requiring the hosts to finish the game with 12 men, they held firm.
And that delighted their first team manager Rick Compton.
“It was a must win game and we are delighted with the way the lads responded to the challenge,” said Compton.
“There are five games to go but we are back in touch with the side immediately above us now.
“It’s still a tall order, but however the season ends the squad has grown and morale is high.”
Westcliff: Whelan, Bard, McKeith, Harvey, Dudman, B Jones, Whiting, Cosgrove, Martyn, Healy, Mckean, S Jones, Binneman, Weller, Smith. Replacements: Redding, Parmenter & Marsh.