In the end we ran out fairly comfortable winners with a much changed and very youthful side taking time to get into its stride.
We went into the game without injury victims Sam Miller and Greg Edwards. To make matters worse, from the selected side second row Joe Rafferty and winger Rob Thorn cried off with other commitments, while scrum half Ryan Painter suffered a back injury at work.
As a result there was a debut on the wing for 17 year old Adam Peacock (being tackled -above) and student Fraser Handley (scrum cap - above) coming into the second row for his first game of the season.
The bench also had league debutants in prop Alex Key and half back Danny Quinn. Because of all the call-ups the Stags were unable to get a side out for their cup game at Medicals.
The home side seized the advantage from the start with a penalty after just one minute from fly half Paul Armstrong.
We had to wait ten minutes for our first serious attack with City eventually conceding a penalty five metres out as they struggled to keep the visiting forwards from crossing. Unfortunately, Gavin Painter’s penalty slid passed the posts.
With both sides making plenty of handling errors it was unusual that the packs had to wait for half an hour to test themselves in the scrum.
We came out on top and quickly won a penalty only for referee Charl Erasmus to reverse his decision and yellow card Carl Miller for illegal use of the boot.
City took advantage with burly centre Chris Metcalfe spotting a gap and chasing down his own kick to touch down virtually unopposed to give City a 10-0 lead at the break.
They increased that lead to fifteen points just minutes after the restart when flanker Craig Dominick burst into the 22 to evade two tackles to touchdown.
Armstrong’s conversion came back off the post, and that let off was the signal for West to set about getting themselves on the scoresheet.
The breakthrough came on 50 minutes after full back Zac Southern and fly half Gavin Painter had swopped roles.
Painter opted to kick for the corner when we were awarded a penalty on the 22 for a high tackle . The lineout ball was won, and when the ball was moved left Southern spotted the narrowest of gaps in the defence to wriggle his way over with Painter adding the extras.
We kept up the pressure with Dominick yellow carded for persistent offside, and Jordan Foulds replacing a tiring Handley on the hour.
We were getting the ball out wide whenever we could, and were rewarded when leading try scorer Liam Checksfield opted for a grubber kick as he and Will Hilditch threatened up the right wing. The City cover looked to be there, but the ball was fumbled, Hilditch hacked on and Checksfield gratefully collected to go over.
Painter’s conversion was again wide, but with 15 minutes still left on the clock City’s lead was looking vulnerable.
And so it proved with Checksfield again the man to score. This time the move was down the left wing with Southern creating space for Checksfield to cruise in from wide on the left to go in under the posts (pictured) to set his side up for a 19-15 lead.
We opted to keep on attacking as the best way to defend the four point lead - opting for scrums instead of penalty kicks at goal as pressure mounted in the home 22.
The try bonus point was in sight, and the cause was helped when City prop Tim Mackay was yellow carded with five minutes left as the West pack drove for the line.
The pressure eventually saw Anth Carr with a chance to force his way over. However, he lost control as he twisted out of a tackle and a City hand was first to the ball to give them a pressure relieving 22 drop out.
We are on our travels again next week with a visit to Morpeth whose home form will demand a better performance.
City: Phil Stewart, Rob Smith, Garry Izomor, Chris Metcalfe, Tom Elliott, Paul Armstrong, Will Paxton, Tim Mackay, Kenny Reader, Benny Parkinson, David Lyall, Josh Cotton, Kevin Showler, Craig Dominick, Howard Johnson.
Reps (all used): David Atkinson, Max Bailey, Joe Maw.
Tries: Metcalfe, Dominick.
Conversions: Armstrong (1)
Penalty: Armstrong (1)
Yellow: Dominick, Mackay.n
West: Zac Southern, Adam Peacock, Liam Checksfield, Peter Youll, Will Hilditch, Gavin Painter,Matt Siddle, Anth Carr, Andrew Rollins, Adam Coates, John Bunter, Fraser Handley, Dan Boatman (captain), Lee Maddison, Carl Miller.
Reps used: Alex Key, Jordan Foulds, . Not used: Dan Quinn.
Tries: Southern, Checksfield (2)
Conversions: Painter (20
Referee: Charl Erasmus (Durham Society)