RUGBY: Newbold soundly beaten at Stoke

Phil Reed, Lee Lightowler and Duzza Ziba introducing themselves to an opponent
Phil Reed, Lee Lightowler and Duzza Ziba introducing themselves to an opponent

Chance to put things right at Stourbridge this weekend

PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH

Joss Thompson tackling with brother Ben supporting

Joss Thompson tackling with brother Ben supporting

Midlands 1 West

Stoke on Trent 41 Newbold 15

Writing this report is the least fun thing I’ve had to do in 2019, and that includes going back work and some (a little bit) of DIY.

Newbold were soundly beaten at Stoke on Saturday, writes Sean O’Brien.

Nick Walton is tackled, with Ben Thompson and Ben Nuttall supporting

Nick Walton is tackled, with Ben Thompson and Ben Nuttall supporting

In fairness a result like this has been on the cards for a couple of months, as Newbold’s defence has been faltering and tries have become harder to come by.

Stoke were young, lively and adventurous. No superstars or giants, but a massive amount of enthusiasm and spirit. Fair play to them. Though only mid table in the league they are on a run of good results. This however was their best of the season by far.

Newbold put a strong enough team out but just didn’t turn up at all. A bit mysterious really.

Newbold have played everyone in the league once now, and are known for having a big pack that has pummelled anything in front of them in the first half of the season. The smarter sides therefore play high tempo stuff in the widest channels they can, stretching the big fellers far and wide, creating gaps in the defence. It’s as though Newbold have been ‘sussed out’.

Ethan Wookey, Phil Reed, Dan O'Brien and Jamie Mapletoft defending

Ethan Wookey, Phil Reed, Dan O'Brien and Jamie Mapletoft defending

Newbold won’t panic though, they’re still a good side, and will learn a bit themselves from this. And there’s no need for a knee jerk reaction to fundamentally change the way they play, which has been so successful for them.

In the first few minutes Stoke harried and hacked their way to a line-out five metres from Newbold’s goal-line. Newbold eventually succumbed to a converted try following a line-out catch and drive.

Dan O’Brien scored a penalty in response, but Stoke soon made it 12-3 with another try.

Newbold were still able to dominate for short spells and scored a decent catch and drive try of their own after about 15 minutes, Danny Facer dotting down, Dan O’Brien converting for 12-10.

Kyle Furlong, with Jamie Mapletoft in the background

Kyle Furlong, with Jamie Mapletoft in the background

Stoke had a purple patch before half time, scoring two very, very (too) simple tries. 26-10 at half time. Whereas normally I’d be confident that we could bounce back I just didn’t feel it this time out. In fact I feared a 50-pointer. Too honest maybe?

Stoke scored again, matched by Lee Lightowler who scored on the right wing, making the score 31-15.

Rather than describe half a dozen good tries by Stoke players you’ve never heard of, I’ll generalise;

Newbold’s scrum was initially OK but deteriorated over the course of the game. The line-out was again ok mainly (sensibly) focusing on getting secure possession with their recently new hooker-jumper combinations. The catch and drive wasn’t as successful as usual despite still having a weight advantage. Defenders weren’t where they were meant to be. Defenders dropped off their tackles, whether at the fringes of the rucks (basic) or wider out. The backs couldn’t make much of the scraps they were fed.

Jamie Mapletoft was pretty sparky for Newbold, Sam Thompson had a good game. Nick Walton made some hits.

That’s it.

Ethan Wookey and Dan O'Brien tackling

Ethan Wookey and Dan O'Brien tackling

41-15 feels about right, but very, painful.

Stourbridge away this week, and a chance to put things right.