Huge game this weekend with trip to third-placed Dudley Kingswinford
PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH
Midlands 1 West - Newbold 10 Droitwich 15
Droitwich earned their victory at Newbold on Saturday, avenging the 50-point hammering they took earlier in the season, writes Sean O'Brien. They were chuffed and so they should be.
Maybe complacency was the issue for ‘Bold due to that early season stuffing in Worcestershire.
Newbold are finding things a tad tricky at the moment, with this defeat so soon after the painful trip to Bromsgrove a fortnight ago. The squad is being stretched to the limit – but no more than other teams at this stage of the season - but it’s more about form than it is about personnel. Newbold have lost their mojo just for the moment, whatever that means.
Two very soft Droitwich tries in the first seven minutes were decisive in the end. They barely had to work for them which makes things worse; Newbold’s defence bought an old fashioned Phil Bennett / Gareth Edwards-style dummy for second of them. Quite ludicrous.
Newbold came back well, applying pressure that indicated that it would only be a matter of time before Droitwich were dispatched like they were three months ago. But a combination of good defence from Droitwich and errors by Newbold put paid to that. It actually became a good competitive game with both sides giving it a go but neither being quite good enough on the day to put the other to the sword.
Ben Nuttall almost scored an interception before half time but ran out of gas before being hauled to the ground a few metres short. Newbold did score next though, when from a scrum on the Droitwich 22 metre line the ball was moved to the backs and fly-half Ethan Wookey grubbered through nicely for Ed Scott to win the race for the touchdown. Ethan converted also, to make it 7-10 and then a penalty to make it 10-10.
There seemed to be only one team in it in the second half for long spells, and they weren’t wearing red and black shirts. The second half was as flat as a pancake. The scrum was creaking a bit by now and the forwards lost out in the loose also to the Droitwich eight, who displayed masses more hunger than the home side.
I will not write that Newbold’s players weren’t putting in the effort. They were. They grafted. It’s just not happening. I don’t know the answer but Newbold aren’t winning the collisions, and aren’t clearing out at the ruck cleanly enough, and are creating slow ball. You’d have time to pour a Guinness (properly) in the time it takes to re-cycle and move the ball from the base of a ruck sometimes. We’re always running at a re-organised defence as a consequence.
But the situation is this. Newbold are second in the league. We have a strong squad of players and good coaches. It’s not as though like in the film Space Jam, someone has stolen Newbold’s talent...
We have a good recent history of reacting well when we’ve needed. So we’ll go again next week. The run-in will be interesting to say the least. Next week is huge, against Dudley Kingswinford in third place. They’re pretty good.