RUGBY PICTURES: Newbold v Derby slideshow
Pictures from Saturday's battle for play-off place
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands Division 1 East
Newbold on Avon 17
Newbold hopes of a grand finale to crown an excellent season evaporated in front of their many supporters at sun-soaked Parkfield Road on Saturday, writes Rod Yapp
Visitors Derby arrived in pole position to claim second place in the league and they departed fully deserving of the play-off game that awaits them at the end of the season.
Whilst understandably disappointed, the facts are that Newbold have enjoyed a highly successful season which is not over yet.
The league will end after two more games, with Newbold assured of third place in the table, which is a significant achievement for a newly promoted side and sets the benchmark for the club going forward.
Newbold also have the opportunity to claim some silverware at the end of the season when they take on Sutton Coldfield in the final of the Warwickshire Cup. Newbold scored a memorable win against a strong Nuneaton side in the semi-final of the competition.
So, its not all doom and gloom, although it felt a bit like it on Saturday night!
Newbold were first to face a stiff down-field breeze and after 10 minutes they opened the scoring with an early visit to the Derby 22.
Full back Dan O’Brien planted a penalty to the corner, the forward drive that followed the line-out ended with Skipper Danny Facer claiming the touchdown, O’Brien slotting the conversion, Newbold leading 7-0.
Despite the reverse Derby were quickly back in their stride, the forwards providing plenty of ball for their pacey backs, who were putting plenty of width on the game, and it came as no surprise when they finally engineered the overlap for a well taken try in the clubhouse corner.
The conversion drifted wide but Derby went on to dominate the second quarter and although severely stretched at times, Newbold withstood any further damage, still leading 7-5 at the break.
Play was more even after the restart, Newbold now having the breeze at their backs and with 10 minutes gone O’Brien thumped a huge penalty from all of 40 yards, extending the lead to 10-5.
Derby hit back in trade-mark style, moving possession left and right before finally reaching the try line for their second touchdown, the conversion again drifting wide. That left the scoreboard tied at 10 points all.
And for the first time Derby then took the lead, exposing Newbold’s fragile defending, crossing wide out on the left for another well-taken try.
Trailing 10-15, Newbold snatched the lead back when a penalty kick to the clubhouse corner ended with second row Ben Thompson crashing over from close range at the line out, O’Brien converting with a well judged kick from a wide angle.
Behind again at 17-15 Derby responded almost immediately, aided by some woeful Newbold tackling, with the final try and conversion of the game, giving the visitors the win and bonus point they certainly deserved.
Chairman Paul Fereday commented: “Newbold gave their all. We just lost by a few points to a side that in my opinion will be playing national league next season.”
Team: Dan O’Brien, Shaun Pollard, Phil Reed, Lloyd Warner, Adam Shaw, Ethan Wookey, Declan George, Ben Nuttall, Stuart Houghton, Ben Dawes, Sam Thompson, Ben Thompson, Mark Hyde, K J Henry, Danny Facer (capt).
Replacements: Eddie Allen; Ed Scott; Kyle Furlong
Preview: Newbold travel to face Huntingdon & District on Saturday, who are currently 5th in the league table, and who lost to Newbold 29-13 back in December at Parkfield Road.
Newbold’s only previous visit to Huntingdon in recent times was a couple of years ago when they lost in an RFU Cup competition.