Pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands 1 West
Newbold 20 Bromsgrove 15
Newbold leapt over their opponents Bromsgrove to take top spot in the league, with eight wins out of eight league games. And what a game it was too. Bromsgrove were a team of real quality throughout, they had the lot, writes Sean O’Brien.
The conditions were brutal. It was perishing cold, and Newbold had the strong wind behind them in the first half. Chairman Fez assured us that the weather in the second half would be fine, therefore favouring Newbold. Newbold played into an icy gale for the second half.
Ben Dawes gave me some stick this week after writing last week that Newbold’s scrum had lost their title as ‘best in the league’. (I never knew that he and the other Big Units were so sensitive). Well, the pack went some way to recovering their title with a strong shift against a big, strong Bromsgrove pack. Again Newbold’s line-out functioned well again with Tom Dixon getting as high as a kite, claiming his own ball and some of the opposition’s.
What won Newbold the game? Three things; firstly, heroic defence. Newbold had about 30-40% possession we reckoned afterwards and this should never be enough to win a game. But alongside strong defending if a side is clinical when the opportunities do come along, then they have chance. Newbold took their chances.
Bromsgrove attacked and attacked, Newbold stayed calm and organised and kept them out courtesy of every player in red and black making their hits. Nick Walton in particular lined them up and knocked them backwards, but this genuinely was a team effort.
Secondly, Newbold made fewer mistakes in those rotten conditions, hands were cold out there and the ball was greasy. Newbold’s excellent skills under pressure enabled them to somehow gain control of the match despite their predominately rearguard action. Train under pressure, win under pressure.
Thirdly, Newbold also won the kicking duel like they did last week. The teams scored two tries each, Bromsgrove’s kickers missing three shots whilst Dan O’Brien knocked over all his chances again for ten match-winning points. This is so rewarding for the big fellas up front that earn those penalty kicks.
Anyway, here’s how the scoring went. From the kick off Bromsgrove knocked on, and Newbold had a scrum. Jamie Mapletoft chased a long Dan O’Brien cross-kick and claimed the ball. He popped up to Ed Scott who really finished well to give Newbold a magnificent seven start.
But Bromsgrove showed what they are about, scoring a really accomplished try themselves through their big loosehead prop - but missing the conversion. 7-5.
O’Brien made it 10-5, then 13-5 with a couple of nice penalties. In this nip and tuck and exciting game Bromsgrove scored a try next through their left winger and it was 13-12 at half time. Not many thought Newbold had done enough with the wind behind them and (pretty unusually) people agreed with John Wallace who said it was going to be a long second half for ‘Bold.
The scrum started to dominate. Newbold camped in the Bromsgrove 22 for a while and scored a pushover try from Danny Facer who the coaches use like an American footballer nowadays, just rolling him on for important scrums. The conversion into the wind made it 20-12 but no way was it done and dusted.
Ethan Wookey left the field after a knock on the head. The rest of the game was in Newbold’s 22 under immense pressure from Bromsgrove, who did score a three pointer to take it to 20-15. They were picking and driving for multiple phases then stretching it by moving it wide, but Newbold were defiant and brilliant in defending their line, and getting the valuable win.
A glorious win then, but a banana skin next week against mid-table Droitwich who are in fine form.