RUGBY: Newbold now have time to regroup and climb up the table

Lowly league position doesn't reflect effort and quality of play so far this season

Thursday, 21st December 2017, 6:30 am
Ben Nuttall scoring Newbold's only try against Scunthorpe PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH

Midlands Premier

Newbold 5 Scunthorpe 36

Newbold entertained Scunthorpe on Saturday, a side that beat us 38-33 back in September, writes Sean O’Brien.

Newbold's Ben Dawes breaking through tackles on Saturday

Scunthorpe brought a functional pack and a lively set of backs to Parkfield Road and their early attacks were blunted by some sound and well organised defending by Newbold.

However Scunny soon earned a lineout in Newbold’s 22 on the left, won it at the tail, set up a phase before switching back to the left wing to score. A good set move, and a nice conversion made it 0-7.

Newbold scored themselves after 15 minutes when Ben Thompson (who also carried well) won a lineout, the ball was driven on before Ben Dawes made some ground and Ben Nuttall did the rest. 5-7.

A short spell of Newbold pressure brought no reward, which was distressing because Scunthorpe deployed something akin to an old-school flying wedge from a tap penalty five metres out, making it 5-14 after the kick.

Newbold's Ben Dawes breaking through tackles on Saturday

Notably, Scunthorpe’s passing became sharp and accurate, and they put their runners nicely through the gaps that started to appear in ‘Bold’s defence after a few phases had been strung together. They also chased their kicks wonderfully.

The half time score was 5-14. They scored three more tries and a couple of kicks in the second half. We didn’t do much. 5-36. The End.

We’ll shake this game off. I’ve already managed to banish this game from my memory. (What game?)

Bad day at the office an’ all that. No new lessons were learned this week; we already knew that passive tackling invites good teams to attack you, we need more lineout ball, and our slow ball is difficult to score from against organised defences. Newbold need to improve in these areas. Move on.

Like every week, the Newbold players worked as hard as hell, but this week they didn’t get their usual dominant half hour. We didn’t get in a groove at all. The usually effective driving maul was largely repelled, and when we did get on the front foot our execution let us down. A few moments of madness cost us also – decision making and concentration are critical at this (and any) level.

So, at the half way point of the season Newbold are at the wrong end of the table.

Two wins and a bunch of losing bonus points is a poor return for the effort and general quality of play (Newbold really have played some lovely rugby this season), but that’s a sign of how high a standard this league is. Some luck would be nice though.

The Christmas break has come at a good time. Newbold will now regroup and come out of the blocks in January and give their all to climb out of the hole we’re in. The group will stay tight, the supporters will regain their voices, and there’ll be plenty of good stuff to read about between now and the end of the season. I promise.

The (very posh) black tie Christmas Party and dinner in the clubhouse on Saturday evening was excellent, reminding us that what happens on the pitch is just one part of what a rugby club is about, albeit a very important one… Merry Christmas.