Close call as league leaders narrowly beat bottom club Dronfield 21-17
Midlands 1 East
Newbold on Avon 21
Newbold took to the motorway for the long haul south of Sheffield to face Dronfield, expecting an easy bonus-point win, over a side languishing at the foot of the table without winning a league game to date, writes Paul Bale.
Kicking to Newbold from the off, Dronfield showed their intentions forcing Newbold back into their own 22. The visitors opted to run their way out, only to give away a simple penalty after little over five minutes of the game played.
Newbold’s forwards attacked the kick-off gaining possession, advancing forward, before feeding the ever improving Ed Scott, who jinked and weaved past two defenders to score, Ethan Wookey adding the extras for 3–7.
The home side’s position in the league was irrelevant as they matched the visitors’ endeavors, forcing a penalty, dispatched inside the opposition 22. A crisp pass quickly shovelled along the line paid dividends, resulting in a well executed, converted try, 10-7.
The referee’s whistle began to dominate the game as both sides were penalised again and again. The visitors’ penalty, five yards from the opposition line, allowed Newbold’s catch and drive to advance to the goal line, thwarted by the referee’s whistle.
The clearance failed to find touch and Nick Walton’s drive for the line was halted inches short. Several line dives were halted by a resolute defence, until Ben Dawes crashed over. Wookey adding the kick, with the help of the uprights, 10–14.
The kick off found the forwards and a good drive cleared the space for the backs to advance. A long mis-pass by Phil Reed to debutant Ryan Campbell, who raced forward, skinning two would-be defenders ended in a cracking try, converted Wookey, 10-21.
A final push from the visitors with a good run by Sam Thompson ended the first half.
The second half started with Dronfield keeping possession but making little ground. A penalty decision against Newbold resulted in the first of six yellow cards against the visitors. Newbold failed to learn that he would not tolerate anyone questioning his decisions, and they paid the price, with 14 men and at times 13 men competing for virtually the whole of the second half.
The play ebbed and flowed with both sides opting to run the ball. An attack into the visitors’ 22 was abruptly ended, as Ben Nuttall received the first of his yellow cards for an interception pass.
The penalty was hoisted into touch and the ensuing lineout was caught and driven to the line. However, the defence stood firm, producing a knock-on and a scrum. Twice Newbold emerged triumphant only for the referee to reset the scrum. On the third attempt the Dronfield No.8 picked and crossed the line evading the tackle. The converted try putting the home side within touching distance of obtaining a result.
The home side, sensing an upset, spent the next 20 minutes inside their opposition half without really threatening a score.
Newbold’s frustration showed as they finally found some momentum and moved forward, only to be frustrated by the referee’s whistle. Dronfield refused to accept defeat and a final visit into Newbold territory showed their desire to accomplish victory. The final whistle came as a relief, especially for the visitors.
The lesson to be learnt here is that the referee is always right and Newbold’s discipline needs to be greatly improved.
Take nothing away from Dronfield, the way they played showed a great fighting spirit and if they mantain that form they could climb up the table.
Coming off the pitch, Newbold’s dejection showed despite a bonus-point win. Hopefully the frustrations of this game can be rectified as they welcome Huntingdon to Parkfield Road on Saturday.
Another tough game for the team and a large crowd would be a welcoming sight for the players.