Victory over Nuneaton sets up February 7 final
Warwickshire Cup semi-final
Newbold on Avon RFC 26
What a magnificent start to 2016 for the men from Parkfield Road - and what a way to do it!
To beat National 3 side Nuneaton, who fielded a strong side and had a number of first team players on the bench, was a fantastic achievement, writes Alan Bale.
Newbold qualified for the final against Sutton Coldfield on Sunday, February 7 at a venue to be confirmed by putting in a superb all round performance. Newbold started off the stronger and were soon rewarded with a penalty, struck sweetly by Ethan Wookey.
Lloyd Warner then intercepted and made considerable ground before being tackled deep into the opposition 22.
Nuneaton’s pack were under pressure from the off and after a huge tackle off a scrum by KJ Henry, allowing his team to turn over the ball, which was kicked through to the Nuneaton line and as the fullback attempted to clear, the gazelle like Adam Shaw charged it down and was first to the ball to claim the try.
Ethan Wookey slotted the extras, putting his team 10-0 up.
Newbold didn’t let up and having kept up the pressure on all the set pieces, it was the lineout catch and drive that resulted in Mark Hyde’s rather satisfying grin, to march back with ball in hand, having scored the second try.
Ethan Wookey was unlucky with the kick as it hit the upright from wide out. Nuneaton rang the changes as Smitham and Griffiths entered the fray, and pretty soon Nuneaton were clawing their way back in, with a penalty from Wilson for 15-3.
Nuns looked good when their backs were given space and able to run good lines through the middle. The one time it happened in the first half, led to a well-worked try for centre Adams to bring the score back to 15-10.
Warner this time broke away again and found Rory Blood in support, his smart kick through, finishing off a neat move to take play back into Nuneaton’s half.
It was great to see Newbold respond as their powerful pack kept play in Nuneaton’s territory, where the ref awarded a penalty after the Nuneaton pack were shunted off the ball, which Wookey struck cleanly to take the score to 18-10 at half time.
Coach Matt Davies emphasised how important the first score of the second half would be, especially now as Newbold had the slight advantage of the breeze behind them.
It was to be Newbold’s catch and drive that won the day though, as Danny Treharne this time appeared from the melee of bodies for a vital but unconverted score and 23-10.
Warner went close again as his kick through came off the post, when it looked likely he would score.
More changes from Nuneaton as Smith and Oselton, then Reid came on and Nuneaton pressed forward, eager to get back into the game.
Much of the play was now in Newbold’s 22, but when they had to, they defended resolutely, and when play was dangerously around the 5 metre line, it was Newbold who were able to clear.
Newbold’s pack were clearly on top in both scrum and lineout, and of course, this made the difference, as the tight scrummaging decisions rightly went their way.
Nuneaton did manage to find a deserved score, as their driving maul fell just short of the line. Brown managed to pick up and find a way through, Wilson landed the conversion, and it was 23-17.
Ben Hartwell, Sam Thompson, Kyle Furlong and Tom Dixon all came on for Newbold. It was fantastic to see so many young faces, all of the Newbold squad not only contributing, but everyone to a man, holding their own or better.
It was a nail-biting last few minutes, but Newbold started to believe they could win it. Ethan Wookey sent the pulses racing as he missed a penalty from deep.
It wasn’t long before he eagerly accepted another penalty opportunity, from the hard graft of his pack, moving the score to 26-17, to secure the game and the final place for his team.
This was a cracking match, but there was no denying that on the day Newbold deserved their victory. This was certainly up there with the club’s best ever wins and all the players can be proud that they played a part.
Congratulations to all the squad, players, coaches and manager of course, who now look forward to the final on February 7.
Newbold’s supporters were fantastic and vocal yet again and I’m certain that there will be a massive following of fans at the final. As soon as we know the venue, we will let everyone know.
Newbold cannot take their foot off the gas though, as another tough game beckons this week end when they take on Market Rasen at Parkfield Road in a league game that kicks off at 2.15pm.