RUGBY: Plenty of positives for Newbold, but defence is key in this league

Tom Grimmett in Newbold's game with Bees  Pictures by Steve Smith
Tom Grimmett in Newbold's game with Bees Pictures by Steve Smith

Mid-table Bournville visit Parkfield Road on Saturday

Pictures by Steve Smith

Defending in numbers

Defending in numbers

Midlands Premier

Birmingham & Solihull 55 Newbold on Avon 7

Newbold travelled to Portway to play high-flying, top of the table and in-form Birmingham & Solihull Bees on bright and blustery Saturday, writes Sean O’Brien.

Bees are well supported and their unglamorous from the outside clubhouse had a good feel about it inside, probably due to their exemplary recent results.

James McGill with Sam Powell in support

James McGill with Sam Powell in support

Injuries and unavailability meant that Ethan Wookey, Ben Nuttall, Phil Reed, KJ Henry and Richard Murray were all missing from last week’s Newbold team, but the team that was sent out was strong enough to put up a show.

However, Bees were altogether too athletic and too hot for ‘Bold to handle on the day. The best descriptors I can think of are big and fast. Intelligently, they moved the ball to the wide channels away from ‘Bold’s pack and rounded their defence with ease almost at will. Of their eight tries six of them were scored in the corners.

When Newbold had the ball they were pretty effective. The forwards ran hard and recycled pretty well. Gang tackles by Bees caused the ball invariably to be ripped, dislodged or held up after a number of phases.

In terms of scoring, Bees went 26-0 up on 30 minutes. Three tries out wide, one under the posts by their big lock forward who picked a good line for an inside pass from the scrum half.

Ben Dawes scores, with Stu Houghton looking on

Ben Dawes scores, with Stu Houghton looking on

On the stroke of half time Newbold’s scrum worked well five metres from Bees’ line, and from the subsequent phases Ben Dawes crashed over. Dan O’Brien converted. 26-7 at half-time.

Bouyed by the try, a discussion at half time between myself and Newbold clubmen messrs Yapp, Bale and Perks expressed (in a scene something like out of Last of the Summer Wine) confidence that we could get a four-try bonus point from the game. We’d played some good stuff in fits and starts, and the backs managed a few slick attacks themselves, only for the last pass to go to ground.

Newbold’s line-out – so reliable in Midlands One – is malfunctioning a tad. Only one of the first five Newbold throws was won cleanly.

In hindsight maybe throwing Tall Tom Grimmett up in the middle or front of the line is a safer bet than tail ball on a windy day.

Lloyd Warner passing, with Dan O'Brien behind

Lloyd Warner passing, with Dan O'Brien behind

There are always positives; Kyle Furlong turned over possession pretty well, Declan George tackled well again and combined well with Dan O’Brien. Ben Thompson chased relentlessly, Douza Ziba scrummaged well, smiling throughout, against an impressive Bees tight head.

Bees took the score to 55 in the second half but were at least made to work for their scores. There is definitely plenty of life and spirit left in this Newbold squad, and whilst a relegation battle isn’t what we’ve become used to, it might just stoke the fires….soon.

The big difference between Newbold and the better opposition in this league is the defence, it seems. Newbold’s defence lacks bite. It’s a bit passive. We need a mongrel or two to liven things up a bit. We’re showing the opposition too much respect. We need to stop the opposition playing first and foremost. Maybe VP’s Day next week is just what’s needed in this regard.

It’s mid-table Bournville at home, and a definite chance of points.

Team: Ziba, Houghton, Dawes, Walton, Grimmett, Facer, Thompson, Furlong, George, O’Brien, McGill, Warner, Mapletoft, Lightowler, Powell. Subs: Bale, Pails, Scott