Pictures by Steve Smith
Midlands 1 West
Newbold 30 Dudley Kingswinford 31
Dudley Kingswinford had only lost once all season (on the very first game of the season) and Newbold were unbeaten, so this was always going to be a humdinger, writes Sean O’Brien.
It was another Parkfield Road roller coaster. DKs got the upper hand early, Newbold imposed themselves powerfully in the middle of the match only to lose out to DK’s staying power to lose by just a smidgen.
By the time I’d carried my pint to the stand it was 0-5, DKs having started like wildfire and scoring just to the right of the posts after capitalising on a Newbold handling error. The conversion was squirted well wide.
Newbold’s strong response earned them a penalty which Dan O’Brien dispatched, 3-5.
A disaster at a Newbold lineout on half way saw DK’s flanker win the ball and feed his inside backs. The influential centre kicked nicely off the outside of his boot to the right winger who gathered the bouncing ball and scored. The conversion made it 3-12.
Newbold’s forwards were warmed up by now and they came into the game. The scrum started to function and DKs were starting to creak just a bit. Newbold soon ‘scored’ a penalty try from an offence by the retreating DK’s eight. 10-12.
DK’s all-court game was just a bit too hot for Newbold at times though. They had an exciting back line and brought their back three into the game really effectively. Their forwards were an athletic bunch, and were particularly effective at the breakdown where they produced really quick ball on a plate for the scrum half to ping out to any number of really willing carriers.
The current Newbold team - or any before them - aren’t the sort to stand back and admire the fancy stuff that was being thrown at them and they responded with some real power and pace of their own. Another Dan O’Brien penalty resulted from this and this made it 13-19 at half time.
Matt Davies dished out a brief ‘motivational speech’ - in Welsh I believe - at half time and this seemed to spur the Newbold boys on a bit.
From a steady scrum in Newbold’s half on the left, they stunned DKs with an excellent first phase backs move. Josh Cooke and Dan O’Brien looped and the ball was transferred via Ethan Wookey to Lee Lightowler who outpaced his opposite number to score in the corner from around half way. This was pure quality, and made it 18-19.
Ben Nuttall came on and typified the mood by getting a great turnover and having a few trundles into the opposition defensive lines.
Newbold caught and drove a lineout but DK’s were solid in defence. Many slow ball pick and drives later, Phil Reed squeezed through a gap to score. Dan O’Brien converted to make it 25-19 and Newbold were looking in total command with just 12 minutes to go.
DKs looked broken when, from a Newbold scrum 5 metres from DK’s line, Sam Thompson (who played well) popped to Phil Reed who drew his man and passed to Ed Scott to score in the left corner for surely a winning score line of 30-19.
Nope. DKs had plenty in the tank, and they went straight back into attack mode and went through multiple phases for their next stylish try for 30-24 to Newbold still.
Then a centre-field scrum went pearshaped for ‘Bold and DKs were awarded a penalty that their scrum half quickly tapped and their hooker ended up with a run in under the posts. Newbold nearly got a reprieve when the simple conversion hit the upright - but it went in and DK’s had secured the winning scoreline of 30-31.
No dramas, Newbold lost to a better side on the day. We also earned two bonus points for our efforts, which are very handy indeed.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, remember. Hope so.