Superb first half of season with 13 wins out of 14
Pictures by Steve Smith
Midlands 1 East
Worcester 14 Newbold 17
Worcester were unlucky not to take Newbold’s scalp on a day which was totally dominated by Hurricane Deidre, writes Sean O’Brien.
It was that cold and wet that I nearly went to the car at half time to get my wife’s poncho to add to my already numerous layers of clothing.
Most of the crowd were wishing they were in the adjacent Worcester Warriors Sixways Stadium - in a hospitality suite.
Playing with the strong wind behind them and up the slope, Newbold, despite being back to pretty much full strength, were sluggish from the outset.
KJ Henry - who absolutely hates the cold, was again strong at the breakdown.
Lee Lightowler nearly broke through and scored, but an excellent tap tackle by the last defender scuppered that.
Newbold pummelled Worcester in September but Saturday was very different.
Worcester took full advantage of the conditions, spoiled everything they could, kept it really simple, and fought for every scrap of possession.
They scrummaged well despite being relatively small in stature as a unit.
Dan O’Brien slotted three penalty attempts in the first half.
Scoring tries was going to be really difficult in the conditions, so pot shots at goal, despite the gale force winds, was the right decision. The ball was being spilt in contact by freezing cold hands very regularly, and the wind blew the ball wildly from the range of would-be catchers. It was all pretty even then until half time at which point the score was 0-9.
Someone wound up Deidre at half time - she went crazy and she was right in Newbold’s face for the second half, which unsurprisingly was played in Newbold’s half.
Worcester scored a penalty and then embarrassed Newbold’s pack with a 20metre catch and drive try early in the second half to make it 8-9.
Newbold did somehow get a try from a tap and go on one rare foray into Worcester’s 22.
Nick Walton crashed over in the corner. This made it 8-14.
A Worcester player was hurt and required an ambulance, meaning that the players had to take cover in the changing rooms for 40 minutes. All the best to him.
They then fly-hacked, harried and hassled themselves into penalty range a couple more times and slotted a couple of good penalties to make it 14-14 and it only looked like a matter of time before they stole the match.
Newbold were out on their feet, finding it really difficult to run into that icy wind.
But, as on many occasions in recent seasons, Newbold pulled something from somewhere and strung some strong phases together right at the end. Full credit to them for this.
Dan O’Brien has never had a more difficult kick from 30 metres in front of the posts. On the very final whistle, he nailed it. 14-17 and another great away win.
I may have felt a bit sorry for Worcester’s players but not so for their sideline team that need to ask themselves whether their abuse of anyone or anything in range (including the ref who had a good game in atrocious conditions) was good for the game.
So Newbold were poor on the day but march on, finishing the first half of the season in second place to Bromsgrove who picked up a bonus point win in their last game.
‘Bold have won 13 of 14 league games in what is proving to be a pretty tough league. The top six sides will all take points off each other between now and April, so it should be a bit of a roller coaster.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Newbold RFC.