Real improvement in performance against Stratford
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Newbold Colts 15
Stratford Colts 27
Newbold chose to play with the very blustery wind in the first half but Stratford coped better with the conditions in the first five minutes, Bold guilty of a series of unforced errors and penalties for offside as they tried to take the game into the Stratford half.
A penalty on eight minutes by Stratford was missed and saw Newbold start to exert territorial pressure from the restart.
A kick through by Kurtley Bale saw Mikey Pratt pressure the defence and put in a fantastic tap tackle, which led to a turnover and then a penalty to the ‘Bold after a great crash ball carry by Carter Murphy, Mikey Pratt slotting over.
Continued pressure was possible with the ‘Bold scrum dominant and the lineout working well despite the conditions for Finn throwing in. With ‘Bold on the front foot, a series of great carries by Kurtley, Harrison Davies and Mikey – and the fast recycling created by the forwards clearing out swiftly – led to a penalty.
Peter Kay took the ball to the line but was smart enough to realise he was not going to make it and got the ball back quickly to scrum half Ed Hands who moved it expertly to Kurtley to bludgeon over in the corner. Mikey added a brilliant banana conversion to put ‘Bold 10-0 up after 23 minutes.
Stratford came straight back and, with ‘Bold guilty of playing too much rugby near their try line, a poor clearance kick saw Stratford put some great passing together to move the ball across the pitch and then back again to find a gap and get over.
‘Bold nearly stretched their lead before half time as Carter released Sam Elliott at pace in the narrowest gap down the wing. With no room to spare, Sam beat the first man but the covering defender just nudged him into touch with the line within sight.
With the wind in their faces, ‘Bold knew they would have to work hard to keep Stratford out and they coped well for the opening ten minutes until the first of a couple of tough calls hit. A clear forward pass that was not spotted saw the line breached in midfield, with Stratford running in under the posts to go ahead 10-12.
Newbold continued to cope well with the conditions and were still getting possession from set pieces – including a couple of scrums against the head.
Then came tough call number two with only ten minutes to go. A tackle near the touchline was flagged as foot in touch by the touch judge as the ball was released but, with most players having stopped, the referee inexplicably overruled the touch judge and allowed play to continue. Stratford were the quicker on the uptake and continued their attack, scoring under the posts for a converted try.
This lead was extended a few minutes later with a penalty. Heads did not go down and a herculean effort holding the ball up over the line three times in a row after five-metre scrums could still not stop Stratford getting over in the end.
Despite the now gale-force wind in their faces, ‘Bold took the fight back to Stratford and after winning the ball back in their own half, strung together 12 phases of play, with strong carries by backs and forwards and some quality offloads to work their way 60m up the pitch and have the final say – with Mikey getting a deserved try to carry the ball the last metre to get over.
Final score 15-27 with Stratford deserved winners. However, a real improvement from the last time the sides met and, with a bit more luck in terms of decisions, could have been very close. Well done, lads!
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