Newbold preview by Alan Bale
If you are not doing anything for a couple of hours this Saturday, get yourself down to Parkfield Road to be part of the biggest and most important rugby game played in the town for many years, between the town’s two most senior clubs, writes Alan Bale.
Both sides have been locked together at the top of Midlands 2 West (South) for many weeks, but that will come to an end this weekend, when one team will be crowned champions gaining promotion to Midlands 1, which is the league where both clubs’ playing aspirations are realised.
Newbold have been playing tremendous rugby for most of the season having scored well over 900 points, almost 400 points better difference than their close rivals.
OLs are unbeaten, so have one more win, which keeps them on top of the division, with both sides having 96 points each. Banbury are third, 28 points behind, so it really is a winner take all battle.
Newbold slipped up away, against Banbury last October with a 30-25 loss, but showed their improvement in the return with a 60 point victory at Parkfield Road.
The Parkfield Road side have been putting teams to the sword most weeks, averaging six tries a game, and stacking up the bonus points, but OLs have been dogged each week, just doing enough to record victories they have needed.
Newbold have been lucky with injuries this season, whereas OLs have suffered much more, but recently have seen most players return. That means both teams will almost be at full strength in what promises to be a cracking and intriguing battle for the championship.
Bold Skipper Danny Facer stated that his team were up for a ‘grand finale’: “My team realise that it’s all on this game, a winner takes all, so we know it will be tough, but we have been working hard and are confident that we can do the job,” he said.
“The boys are looking forward to it, wont be over confident, but want to be able to show just what a good side we’ve become.
“This match is not just about us, it’s about the whole club, as everyone down here from the players to the committee have put in a massive effort. The support from everyone at Parkfield Road has been phenomenal.
“The club have had a fantastic season, every team have performed superbly well, they are all behind us. It’s a close knit family at the Bold and this is something that the whole club deserves. It’s our time.”
It’s likely that both teams will be promoted, as the loser goes into a home play-off, but as Facer went on to say: “We want to win it here, this week, we are not thinking about anything else.”
Players to watch out for – if I could pick any individual I would, but I purposely haven’t chosen any man of the match performances this season as Newbold have been strong all round from 1-18.
They have a strong bench and when others have been called upon from other teams, they really have risen to the challenge. Newbold benefit from a really great youth set up. There are currently a number of ex colts in the Bold side, with loads more knocking on the door, able to play at this level. Long may that continue and with the formation of our minis, two years ago, it really should be the case.
Rugby Lions have achieved fantastic things this season, winning their league and nearly getting to Twickenham, excellent for them and for the town. This needs to be put in perspective though, as Newbold and OLs have achieved at a much higher level, two leagues above.
If you are planning to come to Parkfield Road, I would get there early (3pm kick off), as there will be a feast of entertainment, with all three sides playing - 2nds and 3rds kicking off at 1pm and a pre-match luncheon (12 for 12.30) with a first class ‘surprise’ speaker. There is a band after the game and admission on the gate is just £3, don’t miss it!
My tip? – It’s all about the red and black. Up the Bold!