RUGBY PICTURES: Great escape still on as Newbold win best game of almost any season

Dan Facer and Rich Murray in Saturday's win over Doncaster    PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH
Dan Facer and Rich Murray in Saturday's win over Doncaster PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH

Enthralling victory over Doncaster as Parkfield Road side fight to stay in Premiership

PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH

Rich Murray passes as Newbold attack

Rich Murray passes as Newbold attack

Midlands Premier

Newbold 23 Doncaster Pheonix 22

Newbold have won five of their last eight matches and are fighting tooth and nail to stay in the Premiership, writes Sean O’Brien.

The lead changed hands six times, and three of those were in the last eight minutes of the game. Really not a pleasant experience at all.

A Doncaster player escapes a tackle by Lee Lightowler

A Doncaster player escapes a tackle by Lee Lightowler

Doncaster Pheonix were the visitors this week, and they were just excellent. They should have been out of sight by half time. Time and again they out-flanked Newbold, only for an outrageous, crazy cover tackle or defence-induced handling error causing attacks to break down.

Top half side Pheonix re-cycled quickly, and threw wave after wave of attacks at the home side’s defence. Newbold were pinned in their own half for the first half an hour. I have no clue whatsoever how only a couple of tries resulted.

Pheonix did cross after 13 minutes, and converted. Newbold managed a Dan O’Brien penalty on a rare visit to Pheonix’s half, only to concede another well worked try to make it 3-14.

Where ‘Bold dragged up the energy for the next ten minutes I haven’t a clue. We were looking right down the barrel of a thumping, as Pheonix were loving life, throwing the ball about with no relegation or title chasing pressures to fret about. We’d also lost key man Stuey Houghton, replaced by Douza Ziba.

Sean O'Brien is held off as Doncaster go for the line

Sean O'Brien is held off as Doncaster go for the line

Then, Declan George (who also tackled brilliantly all afternoon) took a quick tapped penalty and darted before passing to marvellous Maori KJ Henry, who burst forward like a man possessed. He passed to Dan O’Brien who took the ball on the hoof, made good ground before being felled just short of the line. But he managed a smart pass from the floor, right in the path of Phil Reed who had chosen an excellent support line, and crossed for the try. O’Brien’s conversion made it 10-14 to Pheonix.

Soon after, Newbold’s forwards took control, ‘scoring’ a penalty try from a scrum. 17-14 to Newbold. Somehow.

Pheonix responded and scored a try to give them a 17-19 lead, crucially missing the conversion.

The last quarter was gripping, enthralling, mayhem and agony. The two sides were going hell for leather at each other.

Kyle Furlong feels the force of a Doncaster challenge, with Ben Thompson and Stu Houghton

Kyle Furlong feels the force of a Doncaster challenge, with Ben Thompson and Stu Houghton

Newbold pressure earned a penalty kick for off-side – Dan O’Brien slotted it for 20-19 to Newbold with eight minutes left on the clock.

Pheonix hit back with one of their own – 20-22 to Pheonix. What the heck…?!

Then, Pheonix infringed to give Newbold a chance! Difficult, wide on the right, his was surely the kick that may potentially save us from the drop; the crowd fell silent for

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once and Dan O’Brien’s kick dissected the uprights!

Game over….! Or not…? No, we weren’t going to get off that lightly.

Stu Houghton makes a break, with Nick Walton and Phil Reed

Stu Houghton makes a break, with Nick Walton and Phil Reed

Pheonix bravely hit back and Newbold in their desperation to stop Pheonix scoring gave away a kickable penalty. Pheonix’s kicker was good.

It cannot be good for anyone to be as high as we were on 79 minutes to being as low as we were on 80 minutes, waiting for Pheonix to kick a straight but long, wind-assisted winner….. But the kick sailed past the right upright and Newbold won the match.

The best game of the season. The best game of almost any season.

Newbold are still fighting, and need to win our last two games. We also need other results to go our way, because our rivals are winning a few also.

But you guessed it, I Believe!! There’s something going on I tell you.

See you at Lichfield next week for as big a game as you can imagine.

KJ Henry makes a challenge, with Sam Thompson in the background

KJ Henry makes a challenge, with Sam Thompson in the background

Phil Reed, with Nick Walton behind

Phil Reed, with Nick Walton behind