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2nd XV - Match centre

Sat 3 Feb 14:15 - League Full time

Newark 2nds lose 5-38 to Derbyshire Rivals Matlock

Boys in Blue ship 6 Tries but go down fighting

Not a day for expansive rugby this, although both sides had a go at times, and with the defining feature of the afternoon being a treacherous pitch 3 at Kelham Road, the kick and chase coupled with a heavy-duty forwards effort was always going to be the order of service for both sides.

Newark, coming off the back of a loss at Lincoln followed by two weekends of cancellation on the trot, were hoping to improve their fortunes this week, and indeed they had their chances. But they were hampered badly by missing personnel (several players on the team-sheet were no-shows); by the lack of a consistent game plan (a tall order for a side that only knows its composition on match day); and it has to be said by Matlock’s intelligent and structured kicking game which kept the home side on the back foot for a large part of this encounter.

Matlock, showing intent – and intensity – from the outset, pinned Newark in their own half (and even their own 22) for much of the first period, punishing the home side for some wayward kicking from hand and using their well-drilled lineout to launch attack after attack when Newark did manage to clear the lines.

Newark, enormously committed but increasingly stretched in defense, did their best to batten down the hatches and soak up the pressure, but had still leaked two tries by the half hour mark, both from breakaways through gaps that had inevitably appeared as the line frayed - 0-10.

It was not until the storm abated in the last 10 minutes of the half that Newark began to regain some attacking initiative, when Rhys Overland jinked ahead from the base of a scrum on halfway into the Matlock twenty-two, before handing off to Dan Dykes and a gaggle of forwards who made it as far as the 5m line before going to ground. Heartbreakingly, the ball was stolen by the visitors in the ensuing melee, and after an expert kick and chase down the left, they went over to score their third try of the day, this time between the posts – 0-17.

Nonetheless, this marked the point when Newark began to show that they could mete out as well as receive punishment, and a great chase from the kick off by Haydn Godfrey resulted in a momentum shift for the last 5 minutes of the half, with Matlock on the back foot as the home side put some good phases together but ultimately failed to cross the line.

And the impetus gained continued into the beginning of the second half, despite the loss of the irrepressible Dan Dykes (shoulder) and doughty captain Nick More (head), with another fine chase from the off by Godfrey, Jack Shine and co, eventually resulting in Richard Primett crashing over the line by the posts, only to be adjudged as being held up – 5m scrum.

This was where Matlock showed their mettle, exploiting a changed Newark front row and what looked like a marginally early shove to push Newark off their own ball, and after a kick downfield and quick recycle at the ruck, they span the ball out left and went over to score – 0-24. To add insult to injury, they repeated the exercise on the right 5 minutes later after the restart went awry.

Battered, but defiant, Newark attacked the ruck from the restart with intensity, and when the visitors popped the ball back for a clearance kick, a terrific charge by Overland and Godfrey saw good Newark possession 10m from the line, despite interference from the visitors, who played the offside rules to the limit for the whole match. A fine run from Lewis Himsworth, now playing in the back division, straightened the Newark attack, with a carry by Primett giving good ball to Tommy Lee, who danced through the defense to touch down in Newark’s only score of the game – 5-31.

Although Newark could feel that they’d salvaged some pride at least, Matlock’s response was typically swift, with a good charge from the kick off allowing them to carve through the home side’s defense to produce the final points of the match – 5-38.

This is obviously not a flattering score-line, but there are some positives to take back to the training ground from this encounter. Despite players being out of position and a shortage of replacements due to no-shows, all the lads showed huge commitment today and there was a big improvement in the shape of the team as the game wore on, particularly in attack. If they can get consistency of personnel and string some regular games together, things (as they say) can only get better.

Tries: Tom Lee (1)

MotM: Haydn Godfrey

Quilter Kids First Skills Series: Crab Football

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