WESTCLIFF will play in National Two South for the first time ever next season after storming to a convincing victory in their promotion play-off.

Westcliff trounced Barnstaple 44-5 in front of a bumper crowd at the Gables on Saturday.

And their director of rugby Rick Compton was thrilled to see his players thrive under pressure.

“The lads played very well and their performance on the biggest stage was really pleasing,” said Compton.

“It was mature and composed.

“We brought intensity and discipline that took the game beyond the visitors’ grasp.

“There is no doubt that playing these games at home is a big advantage and Barnstaple had a long way to come.

“But it’s no guarantee of success and we fully deserve both the result and the reward.

“It’s been a long hard season.

“But at the end of it these lads have produced the club’s biggest achievement and they should be both lauded and respected for it.

“Of course, we are also now faced with our biggest challenge and I don’t think anyone is under any illusions about the size of that challenge.

“But it is one which we will embrace and tackle head on.”

Westcliff, who finished second in the London & SE Premier Division, were on the front foot from the first whistle at the weekend.

And they opened the scoring after just 10 minutes with a try from Greg Bannister.

Moments later, Oliver Jones scored another try to extend Westcliff’s lead but the hosts were then hit by a yellow card to Ewan Binneman.

During his 10 minute spell in the sin bin the visitors mounted some determined attacks.

But Barnstaple were unable to turn that pressure into points.

And, as the final minutes of the half ticked by, Westcliff flanker Alex Hatton scored two quick tries to put the home side 20-0 in front.

As well as a decent lead, Westcliff had the comfort of the wind at their back for the second half.

And they were quick to take advantage of the favourable conditions with a second try of the afternoon for Bannister after 45 minutes.

That felt like a crucial score, one which if it did not quite make the game safe, established a 25-point lead from which Barnstaple would be hard pushed to recover.

Ten minutes later Jack Jones added a penalty.

And, as the game entered the final quarter Bannister scored his third try to complete his hat-trick and Westcliff were totally in control at 37-0.

The visitors did cross for an unconverted try.

But fly-half Jack Jones rounded off the scoring with a try he also went on to convert.

The lead now was 44-5 and the remaining minutes of the game ebbed away, before the final whistle brought scenes of jubilation and celebration for the National Two South bound home side.

Westcliff: Bannister, O Jones, Reynolds, Smith, Merrick, J Jones, Spivey, Hopkins, Binneman, Scogings, Dartnell, Marsh, Hatton, Maloney Lane.

Replacements: Weston, S Brown, H Morrant