RUGBY: Newbold prepare for crunch encounter chasing play-off place

Phil Reed, who scored four tries at Matlock
Phil Reed, who scored four tries at Matlock

Clash of second v third in table as Derby visit

Midlands Division 1 East

Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Matlock 20

Newbold-on-Avon 48

Newbold cruised through this dress rehearsal in preparation for next week’s crunch encounter with Derby at Parkfield Road, writes Rod Yapp.

That game will be a clash of second versus third, the winner claiming pole position behind leaders Bedford Athletic, thus edging closer to an end of season play-off game for promotion.

Bottom of the table Matlock were gutsy performers but they never seriously threatened Newbold, who rattled in eight tries, the highlight being an impressive solo performance from Head Coach and centre Phil Reed who bagged four of them, three being memorable individual efforts, leaving would-be defenders trailing in his wake.

Newbold were up and running almost from kick off, centre Ed Scott powering through the Matlock mid-field for the opening score, which Dan O’Brien improved with a well judged conversion into a blustery wind.

Play thereafter settled into a midfield stalemate, broken eventually by Reed’s first touchdown from close range, after a spell of sustained forward pressure.

Although trailing 12-0 and with half time approaching, Matlock managed to kick a penalty and followed that with their first serious threat to the Newbold try line, the forward pack eventually driving over wide-out on the right.

Leading 12-8 at the interval Newbold skipper Danny Facer joined the fray having warmed the bench for the opening 40 minutes and it wasn’t long before the No 8 was leading the way with a trade-mark pick-up and drive through Matlock’s mid-field defenders.

Centre Reed was now operating at scrum half, with Declan George nursing an injury on the wing and Newbold’s increased tempo brought two further tries in quick succession, both following powerful line-out drives from some 30 yards out. Claiming the touchdown spoils were the second row duo of Ben Thompson and Mark Hyde.

Full back O’Brien missed both conversions but the blustery conditions continued to deteriorate and kicking from distance had become something of a lottery.

O’Brien had no problem with his next effort however, slotting the extra points from in front of the posts, completing Reed’s tap-and-go penalty from the Matlock 22

Two players making their first senior start to a game were next to contribute, back row Kyle Furlong breaking free in his own half and sprinting beyond half way before off-loading to winger Mark Watkins who evaded the cross-field cover to touchdown wide on the right.

To their credit Matlock battled on, breaching Newbold twice in the space of ten minutes with a couple of tries and one conversion but that’s as good as it got for the home side, scrum half Reed twice sprinting through groping defenders for try numbers three and four.

Full back O’Brien improved both, the last with a well judged kick from a wide angle.

Post match, Club Chairman Paul Fereday commented: “The result was obviously very pleasing and what was just as pleasing and deserving of thanks was the number of Newbold supporters who made the 140 -mile round trip on an Easter Saturday afternoon, we had more people on the touchline than Matlock did, it was wonderful to see!”

Team: Dan O’Brien; Shaun Pollard; Ed Scott; Phil Reed; Mark Watkins; Ethan Wookey; Declan George; Eddie Allen; Stuart Houghton; Ben Nutall; Ben Thompson; Mark Hyde; Kyle Furlong; Sam Thompson; K J Henry:

Replacements: Danny Facer (capt); Ben Hartwell.

Preview

So, after two weeks on the road Newbold return home on Saturday to take on Derby at Parkfield Road, kick off 3pm.

This game is certain to have a major impact on deciding who finishes league runner-up behind Bedford, thus qualifying for a promotion play-off game against the second placed side in Midlands Division 1 (West)

The visitors will arrive in pole position and a win would leave them hot favourites to retain second place.

On the other hand, a Newbold win will lift them above Derby in the table, each side then having two games to play to complete the regular season.

Current Top Six:

1 Bedford played 23 101 points

2 Derby played 23 93 points

3 Newbold played 23 91 points

4 Kettering played 23 71 points

5 Huntingdon played 23 63 points

6 Ilkeston played 23 59 points

Derby would appear to have the easier run-in after Saturday’s game, with a home match against Northampton Old Scouts followed by an away trip to Old Laurentians.

Newbold on the other hand have two awkward looking away games, beginning with Huntingdon, followed by Ilkeston.

Expectation of a great day at Parkfield Road is high and Newbold Vice Presidents are gathering for a pre match lunch so plenty of touchline support is guaranteed.

Any late additions for lunch will be very welcome, just contact Club Chairman Paul Fereday.