Kenilworth Colts travelled away to Newbold in a top of the table clash with 12 players unavailable through injury, school matches, work commitments or autumn internationals, but still managed to field a strong squad. Both sides had only lost one match this season to date and an interesting contest was promised.
Newbold put the match onto their 1st XV pitch and this was a fitting surrounding for what turned out to be an enthralling spectacle for the spectators from both sides. The visitors were bolstered with the lads that had performed so well for the 2nds the previous week and also welcomed Michael Jones for his first game of the season, having literally jumped on a plane from Australia the day before. Kenilworth managed to blood 19 of the 22 players taken over to Newbold.
The game was played a great pace and started with Kenilworth picking and driving for about nine phases until eventually losing the ball. From the resultant scrum, wing-forward Dan Goode managed to charge down an attempted clearance kick and following the line out, Kenilworth firstly took the ball open and then quickly recycled the ball blind and a good break by George Martin found Dan Goode on his inside to score the opening try, which was not converted.
From the kick-off, it was taken on by the forwards and quick ball by Sean Martin was fired into the backs and knocked-on. From a position of good possession, we had managed to bring Newbold back into the game through silly errors. Good forward play from Newbold following a line out on the left, worked an opening in the 10 channel and their scrum-half exploited this by scoring a converted try.
Newbold were a very large set of forwards and contained a very experienced 8-9-10 axis, who dominated play with some very intelligent moves, bringing in other players when needed or simply kicking for position. They made good use of their strong inside-centre, who could run into a brick-wall and come out the other side. Eventually, Newbold moved the ball to their right-winger, who worked his way through 3-4 despairing tackles to go over for an excellent converted try.
Cameron Fisher then brought Kenilworth back to within one score with a well taken penalty – 14-8. Changes were made to bring on Nick Prince and allow Cameron Fisher to drop back to full-back and Will Arnell moving to the wing.
Newbold took advantage of their line-out superiority with a well taken 5 yard line-out and created another try converted by their fly-half, taking the half-time score to 28-8. Kenilworth had not played particularly badly, but Newbold had taken advantage of every opportunity given to them by some slack handling and tackling from their generous visitors.
Michael Jones was brought on to add a bit of steel to our tackling and Ben Bosworth came on in the 2nd row.
We were a changed team after the break, putting lots of pressure onto the home side, without finding that killer pass or break that would result in us reducing Newbold’s large half-time lead. Again silly errors helped Newbold relieve the pressure that we were imposing on them, but we were certainly enjoying the lions share of both possession and territory.
From a 5-yard line-out on Newbold’s line, Sean Martin took the ball and bravely drove low through a mass of bodies to score a try, converted by Cameron Fisher to take the score to 28-15. We were very much back in the game.
All of a sudden, it was Newbold making mistakes, getting kicks charged down by Conor Barron and feeling the pressure, but that final pass to increase our score evaded the visitors and silly errors allowed Newbold to throw off the shackles and kick out of defense to find themselves deep in Kenilworth territory. From a 5-yard line out, Newbold quickly span the ball to their left wing and once he had eventually been brought down, quick rucked ball saw a home forward dive for the line, only to be brought back as the ball hadn’t been grounded properly. We managed to clear our lines and eventually get a penalty on Newbolds 22. Three points is not enough at this stage and a devious penalty sees Newbold win a scrum as our pivot was in front of where the penalty was taken from!!
Having relieved the pressure for Newbold, we then compound matters by tackling their penalty taker not having retired 10 meteres, from a penalty in our 22 and lose Nick Prince to a yellow card. Lack of numbers allow Newbold to work and overlap on the right wing for an unconverted try to take the final score to 33-15.
A cracking game, which saw the visitors allow Newbold to take a stranglehold by half-time through some pretty sloppy tackling and some sparkling Newbold back play, but the 2nd half was all Kenilworth pressure and with more belief and a few more passes that stuck, the game could have swung in Kenilworth’s favour. A defeat that will stick in the throat until we get another chance this coming Saturday at home against Nuneaton, who are also riding high in the league.