Action shots from Saturday’s win over Old Newtonians
PICTURED: (from left) Dave Eton (chairman), Tim Cray (1st XV manager), ‘Gaz’ Curtis (1st XV captain), Raj Dhokia (sponsorship), Dave Clarke (Lord Clarke Ltd) and Roger Wills (Secretary)
Midlands 3 East (South)
Rugby St Andrews 39
Old Newtonians 15
Saints conceded a soft opening try after only five minutes, but then put visiting Old Newtonians to the sword in a 20-minute spell of dazzling running rugby that had their VPs and past players positively purring with delight.
The purple patch produced the four tries for a bonus point and effectively decided the game. Unfortunately they failed to replicate that form for the rest of the afternoon and were denied any second half scores, until the last ten minutes, by their tenacious opponents.
Newts kicked off and had Saints pinned in their own 22 where they capitalised on a lack of control from a lineout to collect and score.
Saints responded with some sublime play by the back division. Ryan Taylor scythed through and popped the scoring pass to the supporting Matt Waldron and then added the conversion. A perfectly weighted miss pass saw Spencer Brown and Taylor combine perfectly to put winger Will Headley clear for the second score.
Ben Steele displayed good speed and footwork for the third and Matt Waldron grabbed the fourth. Taylor’s third conversion opened up a 26 -5 lead.
The visitors fought back spiritedly and their aggressive work at the breakdown disrupted saints sufficiently to claw back five points, courtesy of some less than committed defence but it was that man Taylor again who ended the half with a long range penalty for a 29- 10 scoreline.
The second half was disappointing as Saints rang the changes from the bench.
Ball retention by the pack was poor, as was discipline at the breakdown, allowing the Leicester side plenty of chances to counter. They added a third try with some strong direct running as Saints struggled to achieve any continuity, but they still had opportunities to stretch away again.
Mark Dunkley was held up in goal, twice the ball was spilled with line beckoning and three powerful breaks by Mark Brightwell simply fizzled out for lack of support.
Late pressure was finally rewarded with a Taylor penalty and Matt Waldron’s persistence brought him his third try and Man of the Match award. Taylor lifted his personal tally to 14 points with the conversion.
This was a much needed victory, although there is clearly much work to do if Saints are to mount a serious challenge for honours in a highly competitive league.
After just two games only four sides are still unbeaten. Saints face one of these this week when they travel to Oundle, who have notched up two impressive away wins, the last by over 50 points.
The Northamptonshire side will no doubt be keen to avenge last year’s defeat at John Tomalin Way Saints ended their long unbeaten run and their challenge for promotion.