Champions Westcliff seal return to National Leagues with win at North Walsham

Echo: Top team — Westcliff RFC’s first XI have returned to the national leagues after being crowned London One North champions Top team — Westcliff RFC’s first XI have returned to the national leagues after being crowned London One North champions

WESTCLIFF clinched the London One North title and promotion to National Three London & SE with a 40-26 win at North Walsham.

The victory handed the Norfolk side their first home defeat in two years.

And it left Westcliff’s first team manager Rick Compton feeling delighted.

“It was a thrilling end to the season and reaching our goal to be promoted to the national leagues with such a young and home based side is a terrific achievement,” said Compton.

“The lads all deserve huge credit as do the coaches and support team.

“There have been many highs and a few lows, but each time one has arrived we have responded positively and moved forward.

“Each year the club’s performance on the pitch sets standards it seems impossible to sustain and each year we manage to. Next year will be a huge challenge but one we will look forward to and embrace.”

Seventeen out of Westcliff’s 18-man squad at the weekend came through the youth system and one of those, Jack Jones, kicked two early penalties to put the visitors in to a 6-0 lead.

North Walsham replied with an unconverted try but Westcliff hit back with a try from Buster Reynolds which Jack Jones converted.

Moments later, a clever kick by half Ben Jones teed up winger Chris Dudman to score and another Jack Jones penalty then made it 23-5 to Westcliff at half-time.

Seven minutes into the second period, Jack Jones added a further three points and, just two minutes later, full back Greg Bannister kicked ahead and swooped on the loose ball before touching down acrobatically.

Jones kicked the conversion and try from Kostas Dellas then made it 40-5 to the visitors with just five minutes to go.

However, Westcliff then went down to 14 men courtesy of what some thought a rather unjust yellow card. They were also guilty of taking their eyes off the ball and on to the imminent post-match celebrations.

As a result, Walsham were able to narrow the score with some strong direct attacks which took the final score to 40-26.

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