Saturday 23 February
Notts, Lincs & Derbys Shield semi-final
Stamford 19 Newark 23
Newark reached the final of the NLD Shield thanks to a second-half comeback after they turned round 14-10 down.
Ed Poulson, the back-row, scored twice and one each came Matt Cox and Robbie Hunter-Shaw who raced from his own half for a memorable score.
Newark, who won the NLD Shield in 2014, are set to face Notts Casuals in the final on April 27 at Kelham Road where two other NLD finals are set to be staged.
Here chairman of rugby Tim Barker gives an eye witness account…
On a spring-like day Newark travelled to Stamford for what promised to be a tough semi-final against a team top of Midlands Three East (South).
Newark looked to impose their game right from the off and although facing a strong breeze, captain Will Britten cut through their defence to set up a promising position on the left. The pack secured good ball which resulted in the returning Ed Poulson going over in the corner in the 7th minute.
Frustratingly Newark could not consolidate and from a seemingly innocuous position in the midfield on the 10-metre line the pacey Stamford scrum half broke free and fed his support to go over under the posts for a 7-5 lead.
An even more bizarre score followed soon after when fly half Matt Cox broke through the Stamford defence, made 40m but from the resulting maul Newark managed to lose the ball, it was hacked down field and again the home team went over under the posts to take a 14-5 lead after 15 minutes.
To their credit, Newark buckled down and the forwards started to exert their dominance in the set piece.
They drove into the Stamford 22 but the home side secured the ball and cleared long but the high ball was collected by full-back Robbie Hunter-Shaw who set off on a trade mark mazy run that took him past most of the Stamford side before he dotted down for a tremendous 60m individual try.
With still 20 minutes of the first half to go the crowd were expecting more scores, but despite strong Newark pressure neither side could add to the scoreline which saw a half-time score of 14-10 with the visitors looking to enjoy the breeze in the second half.
Newark came out the blocks and from the re-start pinned the home side in their 22. The scrum half looked for a relieving kick but Rhys Overland’s pace closed him down and got the charge in.
The impressive Poulson jumped highest for the loose ball and scored in the corner within one minute of the re-start to give Newark the lead 14-15.
Another moment of magic came in the 50th minute when Newark secured a line-out in a promising position close to the Stamford 22.
Rory Williams secured good quick ball which went out to Cox who seemed to want to push the ball wide but at the last minute he cut back inside and cut through the Stamford defence helped by two powerful hand offs to go over in the corner, 14-20.
Both sides were scrapping hard for possession but Stamford were always under extreme pressure in the set scrums. That didn’t change when Newark brought on Ben Wells for Jordan Hempstead and Haydn Godfrey came on for James Brogden.
Both played their trade mark games with Ben securing a scrum penalty and Haydn with his prodigious tackle count.
From the scrum penalty Cox made a good touch find into the corner but the Stamford players continued to argue with the referee who promptly marched them another 10m which gave Cox a very kickable chance which he converted to give the visitors a 14-23 lead.
Newark emptied their bench with Nick Moore replacing Toby Taylor. To their credit Stamford did not give up and in the 70th minute went over for an unconverted try to set up a tense last 10 minutes.
But Newark dominated possession and territory and managed the game away from the home side who were forced to concede a penalty 15m from their own line which the clock gone red, Cox tapped and put the ball into touch for a deserved and hard earned win.
Newark resume league matches next Saturday, at Market Rasen, kick off 3pm (spring ko times).
Newark team v Stamford: Hunter-Shaw; Charles, Britten, Birch, Taylor; Cox, Overland; Hempstead, Chapple, Coulam, Williams, Matthysz,, Brogden, Poulson, Garland.
Subs: Wells, Godfrey, Moore.
Tries: Poulson (2), Hunter-Shaw, Cox.
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