RUGBY SLIDESHOW: Action from Newbold's impressive performance against high-flying Peterborough Lions

Scoreline flatters visitors in really competitive contest

PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER

Ben Nuttall in Saturday's muddy game against second-placed Peterborough Lions

Ben Nuttall in Saturday's muddy game against second-placed Peterborough Lions

Midlands Premier

Newbold 5 Peterborough Lions 21

Second in the league Peterborough Lions visited Parkfield Road and took the spoils. By their own admission the scoreline flattered them, because as a contest this was really, really competitive, writes Sean O'Brien

There may be mutterings about the shocking conditions being a leveller on the day, but what really made this such an even contest was the intensity and concentration that Newbold brought to the match - and maintained for the full 80 minutes.

James McGill and KJ Henry

James McGill and KJ Henry

Semi-pro (we’ve no problem with that) Lions have a really impressive pack and also have some real firepower in the backs. A particular feature of their play, as with the other top sides in this league, is their physicality in defence. On numerous occasions Newbold’s biggest ball carriers were rocked backwards by some ferocious hits. The match overall was a pretty tough affair, and the smattering of ill-discipline gave the supporters something to rant about other than the drizzle.

Newbold had the edge in the scrums, and the lineouts generally went with the throw. I’ve pretty much stopped whingeing on about Newbold’s line-out woes since Joss Thompson has been around. He gives away a few stones in weight but Newbold’s lifters waft him around in the air by his ankles and he’s hugely effective. Too pretty by far for a second row though.

Despite a lively start, and playing mostly in Lions’ half, Newbold conceded early when Lions scrum half took a quick tap penalty resulting in a converted try under the posts. Another spell in Lions half somehow resulted again in a good score for Lions left winger, which was well converted for a 14-0 lead. So clinical.

Newbold could have wilted at this stage under the weight of the collisions that were taking place out there, but on the contrary they responded and put themselves right in this game. Nick Walton led from the front, and was right in amongst it. The forwards, not surprisingly given the weather, carried the charge for Newbold but the backs handled well on a few occasions and could have snuck in for a score or two themselves with a little more composure.

Rich Murray scoring his second try in two weeks

Rich Murray scoring his second try in two weeks

The backs also need credit for largely keeping out Lions’ back division, who as we know from the game at Peterborough back in the autumn, can cause real damage.

The half-time score was 0-14 then, and ‘Bold had given themselves a real chance of a shock win. The second half was as exhausting as the first, all players by now were totally caked in mud. Not a day for the after-match showers to decide to reduce to a lukewarm trickle (but that’s what they did).

In the middle period of the second half Newbold camped on Lions line for a good five minutes but couldn’t cross. Scrum after scrum was repelled. Credit to Lions’ defence, which was hugely determined.

The feeling is that had Newbold scored at this stage, they would have been favourites for the win. Their tails were up and they were playing with real passion, with the crowd responding and putting in a good shift of their own.

One of Newbold’s attacks did result in a Newbold try on around the 65-minute mark, to give some hope however. They found a little bit of grass and firm-ish ground out wide on the right and combined really well to put Rich Murray over for his second try in two weeks.

The sides slugged it out for the rest of the game, only a messy try in the left corner by Lions troubling Terry ‘Dog’ Andrews who was on scoreboard duty as usual. 5-21. It felt more like a 5-10 in reality but that’s rugby at this level.

Battered and bruised, but so much better for this performance, ‘Bold will roll out again next week at Sandbach and try again to muster up the passion and commitment that nearly got something from this match. Points and wins will come but will they come soon enough?