Newark traveled to Sleaford for their semi-final against Stamford on the back of a succesful Ilkeston 15's tournament.
Stamford are old rivals and the game was always going to be hard fought. Stamford started well and had Newark under pressure from the start. A promising break by Will Lyon had us going forward only for Will to fall awkwardly in a tackle which necessitated a Helicopter ride to Queens Med! Thankfully Will was OK and rejoined his Squad later in the day.
The loss of such an influential player might have diverted the players attention from the task in hand. However we are fortunate to have a squad of exceptional strength in depth and Robbie Puttergill came on to what was to be great effect.
We moved pitches to allow the game to continue. Very soon after that we lost our outstanding scrum half Hu Ab Jones, again to an awkward fall in the tackle. Things were looking ominous. Nathan Cobb came on and Nathan Roberts moved into the back line. Stamford have very strong running backs and although we delt with the pressure well, tries came from a clever move off the lineout and good hands down the line.
Newark started the second half 10 - 0 down.
This side has grown in maturity and has a real belief in itself. Pressure on the Stamford defence from outstanding forward play saw Puttergill go over after good handling from the backs, with a fine finnish far out wide. The conversion looked impossible. Half a meter in from the touch line. Players and spectaters looked on incredulously as Robbie put it between the posts!
The tide seemed to be changing. Stamfords kicking game was hampered by devestating counter attacking from Turner at fullback. Although under constant pressure, Newarks forwards remained resolute and unyielding. Driving the ball upfield working the fringes, 3rd phase produced quality ball for the backs to attack. Roberts shrugged one tackle and broke 2 more to go over for a fine try.
A penalty resulted in 3 points and Newark had a 7 point cushion. Stamford never gave up, the game was not won. The constant threat of a Stamford score was almost too much to bear as the clock ticked down.
Newark kept thier heads and maintained their discipline and composure to run out eventual winners.
Its an old cliche I know, but the forwards won it. The backs determined the score.
Fantastic performance gentlemen.
We now have another final to look forward to. Against...........who else..........Derby.
Bring it on!