THE GAME EBBED TO AND FRO
Bartsch and Fotheringham kept the ship steady.
With a home win against the side earlier in the season and again with the luxury of a full 15 plus 2 subs, Newark Saxons could perhaps be forgiven for arriving with a spring in their step at a damp and chilly West Bridgford on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, Bridgford had not read that particular script and spent the first half showing the visitors that they would have to play some good rugby if they were going to make any impression on the game.
Faced with a polished Bridgford attacking game, and despite some heroic defensive work by Clack and Finlay amongst others, the team started leaking points from the outset and this was compounded by a lack of structure when we did have the ball in hand. After a bruising 40 minutes in which Newark were disabused of any notion of scoring from first phase, and with the back line struggling to fire on all cylinders when they did get hold of the ball, the visitors were lucky to go into the break with four unanswered tries and a deficit of 24-0.
Half time and a quick call to Eddie Jones for advice saw Newark sinews stiffened and shoulders squared as the team marched once more unto the fray. Great pressure from the kick-off led by ‘Scarface’ Godfrey and ‘That’s My Ball’ Dyke, replacing the injured Hempstead, saw some decent possession for the visitors. Four phases later a determined forward effort put ‘Fancy-feet' Moore into space with a penalty in hand to score left of the posts to give Newark their first points of the match, 24-7.
The restart saw Bridgford concede a penalty, which Seabrook obligingly punted into touch with a monster kick which left Newark 10 yards from the home team’s line. After the obligatory ping-pong in the line-out, the visitors managed to coordinate both backs and forwards through several phases, before Fothers went on the charge and popped the ball to the irrepressible Dyke to touch down between the posts - 24-14.
Alarm bells were clearly ringing in the Bridgford camp and the game ebbed to and fro for the next period with both sides trying to assert dominance and some excellent work in defence and attack by Feisty Finlay, amongst others. Finally Bridgford put a disciplined attack up the middle to score by the posts - 31-14. Newark came roaring back with a great move that nearly put the hard-working Clack over in the corner, before a crunching tackle a foot from the line left him with aching ribs and a tantalising glimpse of what might have been.
The rest of the half saw mounting Newark pressure, marred by soft tries for each side, one gifted to Bridgford by some sloppy kicking from hand and one to Newark in the dying minutes when a quick line-out caught the home team napping and gifted Moore a try to the right of the posts. Final score - 38-21.
Whilst this was some way from being an overall team performance by the Newark squad, and they were lacklustre in the first half, they played some excellent rugby in the second forty minutes which had a strong Bridgford side on the run, proof that there is more to come from this side if they can continue to get consistency in personnel going forward. Hard to single out individuals as everyone put in a good shift, but colts Jenkins and McNee showed their mettle on the day and it was good to have wise heads in Bartsch and Fotheringham keeping the ship steady.
Man of the Match: Findlay Tweedie
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