Aire rocked by Whitley Bay juggernaut
By Granville Sellers
A game of 2 halves as Aire collapse under Geordie pressure
Aire 12 v Whitley Bay 63
The visitors struggle for competition in the North East, so travelled the long waye aye to Nunroyd to test themselves against a resurgent Aire side. Having said that Aire were without their rugby league contingent and also missing influential players through injury. It was noted in the warm up that Whitley Bay had some giants in their ranks, so the game plan was to play expansive rugby with tempo and width.
Aire's kick off didn't go 10m, so the home team were immediately under the pump from the resulting scrum. Whitley Bay immediately put Aire under pressure and used their huge ball carriers to make inroads into Aire territory. With the try line in sight, flanker Calum Diamond put in a huge tackle to prevent a score. The rest-bite didn't last long and the pressure told, when the line was breached for the first score.
The restart was fielded by Whitley Bay, who rampaged down the left of the field making yards with every carry. Aire scrambled and defended stoutly to stem the waves of attack & briefly relieve pressure. The away team pressed again & advantage was played after a high tackle, which led to another score.
Aire then worked their way into opposition territory and good line speed knocked WB off their stride & they began making errors. A lapse in defence numbering up allowed WB to break down the right and score a long range try against the run of play. Aire rallied and again worked their way into WB ground and used quick rucking to provide a good platform. Aire were putting some good phases together and stand off Sammy Woodley, saw a gap and burst through for a well taken and deserved score. Aire's tales were up and their blitz defence forced more mistakes. Felix Kraam broke down the right and raced to within 3 m of the line, before he was hauled down. Josh Wood snaffled the ball and dived over to make it 22-12. Unfortunately for Aire this was the last play of the half, because they were looking dangerous & had the momentum.
Aire made a raft of changes for the 2nd half, which gave opportunity to lads who were eager to impress. Unfortunately Aire got off to a bad start, when nobody took responsibility for fielding the kick off putting the lads under immediate pressure. WB were reinvigorated and began breaking tackles with ease. Aire lost Jacob Bevan and Josh Wood to injury, which certainly dented attacking threat in the back line. Aire began to lose their shape and composure and were beginning to fall off tackles with alarming regularity. WB seized upon this flaky defence and scored a raft of tries to put the game well beyond the home side. Credit to WB though, who used their power to bust the gain line and they executed with precision.
The score line suggested a rout, but Aire were looking the better side before half time; however they just weren't at the races in the second period. There were strong performances by Vaughan Reeves, Joe Priestley , Calum Diamond & returning skipper Johnny Ivory. The backs also looked threatening at times with Felix Kraam and Josh Wood catching the eye, but losing influential players to injury disrupted fluency.
It's now apparent why Whitley Bay struggle to find competition in their region, but a re-match is on the cards at the start of next season when Aire will hopefully have their RL and injured lads back available.
Aire are away to Rishworthians on Sunday with 11KO.