Action from the county semi-final at Parkfield Road
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Newbold 2nd XV 12
Banbury 2nd XV 5
A huge game called for huge performances and Newbold 2s were up to the task on an overcast day at Parkfield Road, writes Keith Fletcher.
Taking to the field Newbold and Banbury looked hungry for the game, both teams battling for league position with Banbury edging by a point to Newbold and yet how fitting would this game have been on final Super Sunday, April 30 in Leamington, but alas this was not to be. Still this cup match did not disappoint the small but appreciative crowd.
The early exchanges seem to show what was going to be expected of the whole game with the brutal force of the tackling and heavy, heavy hits taking their toll on the visitors.
The first of many infringements let Newbold have the first shot at bothering the scorer however it slid just wide and the score stayed 0-0 after five minutes had gone.
Some sublime work by both teams saw Banbury forced back into their own 22. To their credit the Banbury boys defended extremely well after constant bombardment from the Newbold back line.
Banbury cleared down field to Ryan Campbell, who seized on the ball and ran back hard at Banbury supported by the marauding Newbold pack.
Quick ball from the back of the ruck, without the need for the opposition to start any international shenanigans, saw Ryan finish off his mesmerizing run and score the first try of the afternoon, with the conversion stroked through the posts Newbold were 7-0 to the good.
A flurry of substitutions did not alter the demeanour of the game as Newbold had a very strong bench which would grace any teams starting 15 in the county.
More and more the game was getting toward who would blink first and as the half time approached no player from either side wanted to give an inch, tempers were starting to fray and after some silly penalties the referee called a halt in this monumental match.
More exchanges at half time and some spine tingling team huddle chat saw the second half breathe in to life. Nothing had changed as the warriors from both teams went hard at each other again. Players knowing that their and their teammates’ place in the final depended on their actions so that they could not let anything go astray.
After a bruising 15 minutes by the Newbold pack Banbury were wilting. Matt Staley slung the ball right and returning from injury Jake Callan romped through the defence line in the corner to take the lead by 12 points, the conversion being missed left the game on a knife edge, managers and spectators alike loving the ebb and flow.
With a full quarter of the game left it had come down to defence and who had the best. Banbury were nowhere near finished and started to go through the gears and substitutions, bringing on some quality players. Time after time Banbury pushed for their first score that may have led to the game going into overtime. Time after time Newbold would not yield, tackling like their lives depended on it.
Clock watching started to enter the fray when the game moved into the last 10 minutes. Banbury had tried their hardest to break the Newbold spirit and their back line and still the Newbold lads would not give in. However, with two minutes left on the clock a quick break saw Banbury bearing down on the Newbold try line and they slid over to give the crowd an anxious last play.
The ball went into the Banbury half from the quick off and Newbold swarmed on to the ball, Banbury knocked the ball on the referee brought the game to an end.
Newbold 2s now travel to Banbury this coming Saturday in the league, a game that could decide where the league trophy could end up although local rivals Old Laurentians plus Stratford and Barker Butts might and will have a say in this outcome.
A fascinating run in to the end of the season beckons for all three senior teams including the Colts at Newbold, a run that everyone is looking forward too.