Scoreline flatters Bees as visitors’ coaches compliment Newbold’s performance
PICTURES BY STEVE SMITH
Newbold 3 Birmingham & Solihull 29
Birmingham Solihull Bees, regulars at Parkfield Road a decade or two ago, are odds on to win this league, six points clear at the top now with two games in hand, writes Sean O’Brien.
However, Bees’ supporters were keen to agree that 29-3 was flattering for them, and the chasm between their league position and Newbold’s was not evident on Saturday.
‘Bold again put in a really good shift that earned a deal more respect than when we surrendered at their place in October. Bees’ coaches - in the televised interview after the game! - were also complimentary and honest about the team’s performances.
If we were sophisticated (or bothered) enough to have one of those charts that showed which team had most territory, it would look great for Newbold. The trouble is that Birmingham Solihull scored two tries in a first half that they largely spent defending.
Newbold played some good rugby in that first half. Ben Nuttall, Ben Dawes and Kyle Furlong combined early and nearly crossed by the posts. This earned Dan O’Brien a penalty, and Bees a yellow card.
More penalties were won, one long but kickable attempt missed, all the others kicked to the corner for catch-and-drive attempts. Brave or a bit naïve? You choose, but let’s remember we’re not in Midlands One anymore, and catch and drive tries are hard to come by.
Surely if there’s even a sniff of a three-pointer we should take it, this will put pressure on the opposition and reward the forwards. We’d also seen by then that Bees were good at defensive lineouts, ‘sacking’ our catchers repeatedly, and skilfully.
Newbold became frustrated at failing to score, poor discipline crept in and Newbold got ragged, which released the stranglehold we had on Bees to that point. Ed Scott, who had had a few really fine moments early on, was yellow carded in this period. Bees scored a try in the corner to make it 3-5, and Newbold responded well with more good rugby. A really good first phase move put Richard Murray through a gap, which could have ended in a scored but didn’t. Bees haven’t just scored their way to the top of the table, they’ve defended themselves there as well.
Next thing we knew we were conceding a try, 3-12 with the conversion at half time and they added a couple more in the second half.
Very clinical, highlighting the biggest difference between the sides. Newbold work hard, we huff and we puff, and we throw our carriers - mainly props Bens Dawes and Nuttall (best ball-carrying props in the league?) at the opposition try line. We score sometimes, give away penalties for trying too hard sometimes, and spill the ball through sheer exhaustion on more occasions. We need something else, some guile, some nous, flair, power…..something. Something to reward us for our efforts. The Ethan Wookey/Dan O’Brien/Rich Murray combo is looking glorious at times – but as a team we need to finish the opportunities we make. We need to execute.
KJ Henry was a pest at the breakdown for Newbold, another stirring performance from him. Set piece: The scrum was under a bit of pressure however, but Stuey Houghton generally found his jumpers in the line-outs.
Here’s one for a Newbold quiz night in a few years; Question: Which three brothers all played together in Newbold’s First XV? Answer: Ben, Sam and Joss Thompson. Good stuff.
Newbold will recover for a week before the run in which is Bournville, Bridgnorth, Derby, Doncaster, Lichfield, and Longton. In short we need to overtake Lichfield and Longton to survive. We probably need four wins. The players know what’s what. The physios will patch ‘em up, and the coaches will fire ‘em up. The Village People’s support will be there for the team. I am sticking to my early and mid-season predictions.