RUGBY: Derby just too good as Newbold battle to stay in division with three games to go

Sam Thompson making a break, with Phil Reed
Sam Thompson making a break, with Phil Reed

Pictures by Steve Smith

Midlands Premier

Jamie Mapletoft on his way to a try at Derby

Jamie Mapletoft on his way to a try at Derby

Derby 40 Newbold 18

Thumped! The scoreline says it all. Derby were too good, their backs in particular were dangerous to a man, on their fast artificial pitch in good conditions, writes Sean O’Brien.

The forwards cancelled each other out in the main, and turnovers this week were fewer than last, with the referee being very consistent in giving advantage to the attacking side at the breakdown (the same for both teams).

Newbold were actually pretty good with the ball in hand, dominated the early exchanges, and scored a good try wide on the right through Ben Dawes. Hard, straight running by the forwards, and good control of possession was paying dividends.

Duzza Ziba tackling, with Joss Thompson ready to help

Duzza Ziba tackling, with Joss Thompson ready to help

Derby then got into their stride and scored on the left, followed by a penalty from in front of the posts, and another try soon after. Newbold’s chest high, passive (at best) tackling conceded ground unnecessarily and this was their undoing. Why would you not keep running at a defence that doesn’t hurt you?

Newbold, though second best were still in the game throughout the first half. This optimism was dented by a score just before half time which made it 23-5. That hurt as much as physio Rich Welsby sorting out your calf strain. Hands like a plasterer.

Derby scored again after the restart, but Newbold hit back manfully.

A couple of long three-pointers from Dan O’Brien bringing us back into the frame before Jamie Mapletoft scored an excellent chip and gather try, sprinting into the right corner for a real beauty.

Derby try to stop Ethan Wookey, with Ben Nuttall and Lee Lightowler behind

Derby try to stop Ethan Wookey, with Ben Nuttall and Lee Lightowler behind

Dan O’Brien’s long conversion offered hope and when the score was 26-18, Newbold’s supporters were roused and loud.

Derby were having fun though by now. Newbold’s defensive organisation was all over the place as Derby pulled them from left to right and back again before striking.

They kicked well out of hand as well (it’s a good job their goal kicking wasn’t great by the way) and their kick chases showed that they all knew their roles in every aspect of the game.

Excuses were flying around after the game about this that and the other reason for losing (I even heard something about ball-tampering I think), but for me Newbold were just too cocky and forgot that it was really hard work and togetherness that secured the recent wins.

That said, ‘pride in the shirt’ and all that stuff is not always a match for superior pace, skill and execution.

Derby’s dominance continued to the end and their backs were enjoying counter attacking from deep from any loose kicks. They did this at real pace, handling deftly and off-loading with great skill.

A mention for Duzza Ziba who put in a good final 25 minutes, with some excellent behind-the-gainline chop tackles, and some solid scrummaging.

The remaining scores all went Derby’s way, for a 40-18 well deserved victory.

Newbold pretty much now need to win our last three games, which by last week’s standards is very do-able, but by this week’s standards looks a bit more challenging. Lichfield and Longton, who both need to be overtaken, both also lost however so there is still hope for those with great faith. Intriguingly, Newbold still have to play them both.

And, yes I do still believe that we will be in this league next season – but only if the players and coaches get together and get their heads where they were earlier in the month.