Newark 2nds in 26-36 Win against West Bridgeford in Notts Cup Semifinals
Boys in Blue too much for Bridgeford in thrilling second half turnaround
This was the fourth meeting between the two Nottinghamshire rivals in the 17/18 season, and with Bridgeford having proved by some margin the stronger side on the two previous occasions, Newark had a point to prove, fielding a well balanced side with a well-stocked bench (for once).
The visitors had a frustrating first half, spoiling some good overall play with unforced errors, penalties and missed tackles.
Bridgeford drew first blood, with a move from behind a 25m scrum resulting in a score left of the posts to put them 5 points ahead. Newark responded well, using a series of phases to force the home side up towards their posts, before launching James Price over the line on the back of of a 5 metre penalty. 5-7 (conv. Harry Jenkins).
However, momentum shifted abruptly back into Bridgeford's favour, with fluid moves from the restarts exposing weakness in Newark's defensive organisation and allowing the home side to notch up two quick tries in succession. 19-7.
With Bridgeford's tails up, it was time for the visitors to give them pause for thought. A penalty by Bridgeford allowed the massive boot of James Price to find good touch on the 25m line and with Tommo providing excellent service at hooker all day, Newark formed a solid maul before slipping Jack Shine round the blind side to score in what - almost - looked like a pre-planned move. 19-12.
Nonetheless it was Bridgeford who had the final say in the half when an intercept on some sloppy Newark passing gifted them with a runaway try. 26-12.
And so to the second half, with a break and a chance to rehydrate and refocus (no doubt with some choice words from coach Byrom), and a fresh mindset from the Newark crew despite the 14 point deficit.
Junior colt James Brogden at no. 8 set the tone from the restart, ably assisted by fellow U17 William Saege, with a rampaging charge up the centre, creating a maul which sucked in a scrambling Bridgeford defence. Spotting the opportunity, the excellent Harry Jenkins at 9 spun the ball out left to Barnsdale who took the tackle and slipped the pass to Tommo to score on the overlap - 26-17.
Minutes later - and after a failed attempt at a penalty goal by Bridgeford - tit-for-tat scrum penalties on the home 25m line allowed Josh Duggan to barrel over on the right for another great score - 26-24 (conv. Harry Jenkins).
This was the signal for a huge effort by Bridgeford who spent the next 10 minutes camped on the Newark line in a valiant but ultimately fruitless attempt to regain the initiative, foiled by some excellent defensive work at the hands of the Newark heavy mob.
And having survived that period of massive pressure, Newark never really looked back, putting together some increasingly coherent attacking play and giving the Bridgeford crew no real opportunity to regroup.
The game was sealed by two further tries, the first to take Newark into the lead when Harry Jenkins turned the ball over in a superb tackle on the opposition no 9, shipping the ball through to Duggan and then to James Brogden who battled over to score left (26-29); and the second when a great man and ball tackle by Haydn Godfrey on the Bridgeford no 10 saw the ball passed quickly down the line to Nick More on the overlap to touch down and seal the game (26-36, conv. Harry Jenkins, final score).
Great overall performance by the Newark squad, who really began to come together as a team during this game, and plenty of names worthy of mention. Junior colts James Brogden, James Harding and Will Saege showed not only their considerable individual skills but also their qualities as team players in what was an intense, physical match. Godfrey, Gibson and Shine all put in excellent shifts in attack and defence, and Overland and Jenkins controlled well at half-back. But special credit must go to James Price and particularly Tommo, whose work in the loose and never-say-die attitude were an inspiration.
Next up - Notts cup final at Lady Bay vs Paviors next Sunday.
Tries: James Price, Jack Shine, Ian Thomlinson, Josh Duggan, James Brogden, Nick More
Conversions: Harry Jenkins (3)