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Season off to a decent start for Westoe
FORMER Westoe players made a big impact on their winning debuts in National One as centre Tommy Banks scored a hat-trick for Blaydon and Ollie Stedman bagged a brace for Tynedale.
Blaydon crowned a good week on the sponsorship front by winning 43-19 at Macclesfield after cruising into a 33-0 lead just after half-time.
They dominated the line-out, had the edge in the scrum and after two injury-ravaged seasons scrum half Andrew Davies was outstanding.
Like Banks, Davies is a student but after a switch of course is expected to be around for a few more years.
Blaydon drove an early line-out from the 22 for No 8 Jason Smithson to score, then fly half Andrew Baggett set up Banks for his first before winger Tom Jeffery started and finished a move.
Smithson scored his second from a five-metre scrum and from the restart after the interval Macclesfield dropped the ball and Banks capitalised by beating four men on his way to the line.
Baggett added his fourth conversion, then Smithson was sin-binned and on his return Blaydon sent on their replacements, who included ex-Falcon Hall Charlton.
They suffered an injury and played the last 25 minutes with 14 men but managed to respond to Macclesfield's three tries with two of their own from Banks and winger Frazer Wilson.
Tynedale won 38-22 at home to promoted Old Albanians, although they had to come back from 22-19 down with ten minutes left.
English Counties winger Hamish Smales scored twice in two minutes and No 8 Stedman grabbed his second at the death. His ex-Westoe back row colleague Ben Frankland was also among the scorers.
Darlington Mowden Park began life in National Two North with a 34-0 defeat at Preston Grasshoppers, who had former Great Britain RL captain Sean Long pulling the strings at fly half.
In a good, open game the absence of four first-choice backs took its toll for Mowden, whose forwards competed well and held their hosts to 0-0 after 35 minutes.
Mowden then lost the ball twice in the Preston half and the Grasshoppers ran away to score two tries.
One of the two tries they also scored in the last few minutes was also a length-of-the-field break, giving them a flattering margin.
Mowden's chairman of rugby, Mike Keeligan, said: "It's a big step up.
They finished third last season and have strengthened since. We showed we can compete but we need to add some depth and we're working towards that. Guy Van Den Dries had a good debut and Luke Wishnowski was man of the match."
Westoe, who visit Mowden this week, also struggled to contain their hosts' backs as they lost 32-3 at Leicester Lions.
West Hartlepool made an encouraging start in National Three North, scoring seven tries in a 48-14 home win against Birkenhead Park after lock Andrew Davies scored the first two tries in quick succession.
Hooker Andrew Rollins was involved in the first and another newcomer, Stewart Grazier, in the second, for which Davies ran 25 metres.
Greg Edwards and Craig Gilmour gave West their four-try bonus by half-time then Anth Carr crossed in the corner and Stu Waites landed the best of his five conversions.
Andy Foreman, playing on the wing, took a quick penalty to set up Edwards for his second and Grazier peeled off a maul for the final try.
Under increasing pressure in the second half, Chris Hyndman and Dave Robinson were sin-binned and Harrogate forged ahead before Hyndman scored a late try.
It was a disappointing start in North One East for Middlesbrough, who lost 20-18 at home to Pocklington, and Darlington, who were thrashed 64-0 at Northern.
Boro paid for the lack of an experienced goal kicker as Jack Bircham missed two conversions before retiring through injury, leaving Peter Wright to attempt the one from close to the posts which would have earned a draw.
After trailing 20-8 Boro fought back well in the last 15 minutes with centre Paul Norris breaking through to send prop Matthew Helm over.
Then at the death the other centre, Rob Bellerby, kicked ahead to score, only for the conversion to fail.
Boro conceded a lot of turnover ball in the loose and were 10-0 down before Bircham kicked a penalty just on half-time.
Wright nipped over from a quickly-taken penalty midway through the second half, but Pocklington came back with a penalty and were then awarded a penalty try when Boro tried to kick the ball out of a retreating scrum.
Darlington had to field a patched-up side and suffered further injuries, including one to hooker Michael Stowe, who was replaced at half-time by Brendan Parker, playing his first game for four years.
They trailed 24-0 at half-time and ran out of steam.
In Durham and Northumberland One, Stockton won 17-3 at Gosforth, who were unbeaten at home last season.
No 8 Matt Wootten scored Stockton's first try and the other two were pushovers, touched down by replacement scrum half Paul Armstrong and flanker Martin Dixon.