Redcar’s Survival So Near and Yet So Far (Thanks to Neil Young for the match report)
By Dave Pearson
For what turned out to be Redcar’s biggest game in years and the news filtering through of the new restructure of the leagues and Option X being the chosen solution, this meant Redcar needed to finish fourth bottom to survive this season and only a win
Winlaton in the warm up seemed buoyed by the occasion and extremely organised, it really is amazing what can happen from season to season, the last time the clubs met in 2016/17 Redcar amassed 147 points for, so to see Winlaton cheer every hard hit or point scored was something that stuck in the throat bearing in mind we never did make much of such a win 2 seasons ago but maybe that’s where I’m getting old and the game is changing (for the worse).
Winlatons dominance in the scrum set the early pace with them winning their own and dominating a much changed Redcar side. Although WV seemed to be on top it was Redcar RUFC who scored first up the hill with an opportunist piece of play fed out wide to the dangerous Matt Curry who skipped through two defenders to finish strong in the corner, 0 – 5.
Winlaton, shocked by the score began to offend and get on the wrong side of the referee, who it is worth noting was one of the strongest referees we have had this season, well done Sir, the referee didn’t take kindly and penalised WV at will, with another chance to score Redcar attacked only to be denied by an illegal tackle, this saw the WV 6 head off to the bin.
Redcar had all the pressure but a series of poor body positions at the ruck led to WV overpowering them on various occasions, eventually being rewarding with some fantastic link up work between forwards and backs, Winlaton scored, 5 – 5. The game was evenly poised with both sides displaying some excellent phases of attack, Redcar pressed and with an overlap opportunity Jake Duddles threw a missed pass only for it to fall short and into the hands of the Winlaton centre who ran it in from 70yrs to put them in the lead, 12 – 5.
Once again injuries disrupted Redcar with Kieran Mcmahon coming off having emptied his tank with some excellent attacking options, when fit Kieron will be a huge player for us next season so let’s hope he buys into that in pre season, Daniel Addison replaced Mcmahon and was a constant threat. Ste Johnson was replaced for blood, Sean Condell moves into 9 and Brad Stovell played the remainder of the game in the Back Row. After the reshuffle Redcar continued their fight for survival and once again found themselves camped on the Winlaton 5m, with only some fantastic defence denying them a score.
Redcar’s forwards fought hard and the backs looked dangerous with ball in hand, none more so than Addison who carved through the Winlaton defence and could have scored himself but chose to pass only for Holmes to fumble from a few meters and a certain try was missed.
The longest half of rugby came to an end with Redcar feeling positive and now would be playing down the hill.
Half Time Winlaton 12 - 5 Redcar
Although Redcar has the slope, their first half efforts seemed to have taken their toll as boys looked tired, Winlaton seemed to step it up a gear and began to dominate possession, none more so than from a penalty, they chose to kick for the corner, from the resulting lineout a catch and drive caught Redcar off guard and drove them 10m only for it to be collapsed and a penalty try given, 19 – 5. Some quick thinking at the kick off by Addison races away with the ball, as Winlaton celebrated their try Redcar kicked off but the ball rolled out 5m from the Winlaton tryline and averted a very strange but well deserved try. From the lineout Redcar turned the ball over moved it wide only for Craig Newlands to be stopped with a high tackle, the resulting penalty saw Addison with a quick tap and try, 19 -12.
Due to two front row injuries the game went uncontested, Paul West came on for the last twenty mins. What followed was new to me and I’m still 100% convinced the referee was wrong ! From the resulting uncontested scrum, Redcar’s No8 (The most hind player) picked the ball up evaded the Winlaton Back Row and was Away down field, on hearing the screams of the Winlaton pack who didn’t fancy chasing him, the referee blew his whistle and awarded Winlaton a penalty, his exact words were.....”You can’t pick and go from an uncontested scrum” I questioned it and was told I was incorrect and his decision was the correct one. The referee in question had been and continued to be excellent however this decision bamboozled me and still does ?
Redcar worked hard and defended well and once again looked to attack at every opportunity but Winlaton were in no mode for helping our plight and turned over attack after attack.
Again it was a Redcar error that cost us more attacking yards with another interception thrown from inside the opposition 22m this took Winlaton another 60m upfield and into the Redcar 22m, from this Winlaton camped for sometime but a solid Redcar defence didn’t let them in.
Redcar struggled to win back possession and as the ball moved wide some uncharacteristic defence seen the Winlaton full back sail past three players, 24 - 12. One final war cry behind the sticks was all Redcar needed and off they went in search of two tries which would result in the win and a 5pt bonus point......however a few mistakes inside the Winlaton red zone killed off any comeback, Winlaton raced up the field but were penalised, scrum half Condell took the quick tap as he passed the ball the Winlaton 13 who clearly wasn’t 10m intercepted and ran untouched in the corner for the final nail in Redcar’s D&N2 coffin.
Winlaton Vulcans 31 Redcar 12.
I could summarise with a relegation rant about the how, why and what’s of relegation for Redcar but it would be wrong of me to take the gloss off a great game of rugby from both sides.