League leaders beat closest rivals and make it eight out of eight
Midlands 1 East
Newbold on Avon 25
Old Northamptonians 21
The sun was shining, it was Vice Presidents Day, the crowd was on good form and Newbold posted an excellent win against Old Northamptonians, who are second in the table, writes Sean O’Brien.
ONs are a fine side and with a bit more beef could be a real handful. They came down from National rugby last season.
Newbold had to change their team again this week; Max Tichenor coming in for his debut at full-back and doing very well. Newbold put eight phases together early on, earning a scrum on ONs’ five metre line. They cleared to touch only for Newbold to catch and drive and for KJ Henry to power over for try. Dan O’Brien added the extras.
The next spell was all about ONs showing what they can do, but Newbold’s defence was resolute. Both sides slugged it out for a while in an entertaining second quarter and after a good Ethan Wookey kick to the corner, Newbold put some phases together with Mark Hyde carrying frequently, along with Ben Dawes, and Sam Thompson having probably his best game of the season.
The traditionalists amongst us were still moaning about the decision to turn down a kickable penalty in favour of a line-out, when Stuart Houghton scored the try, O’Brien adding the conversion.
This was against the run of play to a certain extent, the score being earned by great defence, particularly by Rory Blood, whose aggressive, destructive tackling totally belies his appearance. Newbold’s 14-0 lead soon became 14-7 when, inevitably, ONs’ pressure told and they scored to the right of the posts.
Two good penalties from O’Brien, one either side of half time, turned out to be critical; ONs’ kicker left his kicking boots at home, good job for Newbold.
ONs had the better of things by now but didn’t quite have the precision or incision needed to do the damage that their phase play deserved. Their fly half ran the show well and the full back looked very dangerous indeed. But Newbold have plenty of firepower at the moment, and ten minutes into the second half, from nothing really, James McGill broke from his own half and ran an outside arc to score a cracker in the left corner, O’Brien missing the kick.
At 25-7 we in the stand still didn’t feel safe, such was ONs’ quality – quality that brought them two more hard earned scores, both converted, for 21-25 with five minutes to go.
Newbold’s bigger forwards were flagging badly now, and with Christmas coming up that’s worrying. A spell of constant ONs pressure was broken up by an excellent Kyle Furlong turnover, and subsequent clearance. Newbold managed to keep ONs out for the rest of the game, O’Brien missing a long penalty on the final whistle.
We must be careful not to take wins like this for granted. Newbold are a well-coached and talented squad, earning wins against good opposition. And we are gaining some momentum and a winning habit. Paviors RFC next.
Newbold 3rd XV 60
Droitwich 3rd XV 15
Newbold were prepared for the hour journey with youth and experience. Arriving with five colts and two players whose combined ages where greater than all colts ages’ put together!
With an extremely large pitch and uncontested scrums it meant that energy levels would be tested. Ex-colts Ryan Campbell, Billy Adam, Jake Bancroft and Dan Hart enjoyed the huge space available. Within minutes Ben Brain gave quick service from a ruck which led to Shaun Pollard scoring a 70-yard uncontested try under the posts.
From the restart Newbold gathered in and again attacked with venom which enabled Billy Adam to touch down. It was then time for Luke Brown and Martin Shaw, with their years of experience to combine and send Ryan Campbell over for his first of his 40-minute hat-trick. Pollard and Williamson then crossed the whitewash for a commanding half-time lead.
Droitwich realised that they needed to up the tempo to stem the try fest, which they duly did in the second half. Fin Williamson, Joul Saunders, Gurjit Rupal and Kier Bale began tackling ‘low’ and strong to keep the opposition at bay but with some lose tackling from the backs the home side got a brace of tries as a reward.
Close encountered graft from Lloyd Bale, Conor Brown and Toby Quartley-Watson meant that Droitwich had to work hard for their final try. Cue the strong running and a try each from Pollard, Brown and Campbell to round off an emphatic victory.
Man of the match was Fin Williamson for his strong ‘low’ tackling. Ten tries and five converted by Martin Shaw meant the travel was not an arduous task. Thanks to Murph, Mr and Mrs Campbell for their support.