Out of cup despite draw with Stratford
Warwickshire Colts Cup Quarter Final
(Stratford progress to semi-finals)
Heartbreak for the Newbold Colts side as, although unbeaten, they do not progress in the Cup after a pulsating draw in this Warwickshire Colts Cup quarter-final encounter with Stratford. With the scores level after full-time, and no extra time to be played, the cup rules decided the outcome.
Newbold came out of the blocks fired up and had their opposition reeling immediately. A great take by Joss Thompson saw Newbold’s pack surge through a series of rucks to force a penalty which Ben Williamson put into the corner for the lineout. A sweet catch was turned into a dynamic maul which blasted over the line – Jayke Callan getting the ball down.
The conversion attempt went narrowly wide. On the next play, steely defence forced a penalty which led to a lineout on halfway. Quick ball off the top and a loop move saw Manny Sidhu take the ball over the gain line at pace, feeding Adam Shaw to outstrip the Stratford defence and dot down under the posts – Ben converting for a 12-0 lead. Newbold kicked on again and ferocious rucking and tackling forced a penalty in the opposition 22 which Ben slotted over. The second quarter saw Stratford come back into the game, with their threatening backs creating chances, but half time arrived with no further scoring.
The second half started with Stratford bolstered by a fly half who was only able to make the second half and he made his mark early with probing kicks and quick distribution. Absorbing the pressure, ‘Bold won a scrum in their 22 but ‘Bold were adjudged to have pushed early and the Stratford no.9 was quick to take the free kick. As the ball was fed quickly wide, Manny almost made an interception, but the ball went to a huge prop who blasted over Stratford converted.
Once again, ‘Bold got on the front foot and a threatening break saw the Stratford winger rightly penalised and sin-binned for dangerous play, the penalty taking the score to 18-7. This should have been the point ‘Bold put the game out of Stratford’s reach, but within a minute, what looked like a perfectly good, crunching, tackle by Tom Price was deemed a yellow-card and the man advantage disappeared. Despite the Stratford pressure, once again ‘Bold found something.
With Stratford backs looking to be in the process of getting in at the corner, Manny Sidhu was alive to the danger and stepped out of the line to intercept within the 22 and burn away down the full length of the pitch and get in under the posts – Ben getting the extra points to take the score to 25-7.
Stratford showed immense commitment and character and came back straight winning and kicking a penalty. With ‘Bold starting to tire and hobble after their efforts, and the bench bare, Stratford used their replacements and camped in the ‘Bold half. An outstanding turnover by Josh Hutchinson on the ‘Bold line temporarily relieved the pressure, but Stratford won the lineout and the next wave of attacks saw them over for a converted score. The yellow card deemed necessary even though the try was scored reduced ‘Bold to 14 for the remainder of the match. With ‘Bold back in the opposition half for some minutes, an outstanding clearance kick by the visitors’ fly-half led to a lineout deep in ‘Bold’s territory.
Winning the lineout, ‘Bold were unable to clear the ball and a turnover was swiftly distributed to their extra man on the wing. The conversion from the touchline was to prove crucial. With the score 25-22, ‘Bold were now hanging on with only 2 minutes to play. Unfortunately the restart was kicked dead and from the resulting scrum on half way, Stratford took their chance and won a last minute penalty in front of the posts which was despatched and followed by final whistle – resulting in a 25-25 draw.
As both sides gathered, the ‘Bold coaches had the job of informing the lads that there was no extra time and with try count. conversion count and penalty count equal, the ‘winner’ was the team with fewer yellow cards – Stratford progressing to the semis with one fewer (the final factor would have been ‘Bold ‘out’ as the home side in any event).
Gut-wrenching, soul destroying…you name it. Plenty of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ but, for sure, the ‘Bold squad gave their all and were a credit to themselves and their club with the sporting way they accepted their fate and congratulated their opponents at the end even though hurting. Stratford never gave up and we wish them good luck in the semis. On another day…