Newark 2nds Lose to Derbyshire Rivals Melbourne in Hard-Fought Contest
Newark 2nds - 8, Melbourne 2nds - 24
After a difficult outing to Sutton Bonnington the week before, which saw Newark go down 59-10 despite a dominant second half performance, the lads were in no mood for giving away easy points this Saturday, producing an outstanding defensive display against a Melbourne side who have yet to lose this season.
The visitors deployed shock and awe tactics from the outset of the game, retaining the ball well and attacking in waves. Newark was forced to soak up a huge amount of pressure, with players putting their bodies on the line time and time again and play rarely shifting from the Newark end of the pitch. Coupled with this, Newark struggled initially with the scrum and line-outs for both sides were affected by the wind, making life difficult for hookers and jumpers alike.
Given the above, Melbourne looked like they might start to put some serious points on the board, but as the half wore on, it became clear that they were going to have to graft for every point, with the quality of the Newark defence proving a real obstacle to the visitors' ability to get over the line. Good line speed, vigorous competition at the breakdown and some thumping tackles from the likes of Toby Taylor more often than not disrupted the fluidity of Melbourne's attacking play, and whilst they did score twice in the second quarter, they had to work for it - 0-12.
If Newark had found their defence in the first 30 minutes of the half, they began to find their attack in the final 10, producing an excellent passage of play, using a rapidly advancing pick and go to get up to the Melbourne 22, before spinning it out, with the move only stopped by a despairing high tackle. Tom Lee - at full back for this game - duly stepped up to put Newark's first points on the board, 3-12 going into the break.
With the game still within reach at the opening of the second half, both teams had to work hard to assert themselves and momentum ebbed and flowed around the middle of the pitch as the sides attempted to break through. Something had to give, and in the event, it was a well-worked move from Melbourne which eventually broke the deadlock, when they finally managed to maul their way over and score - 3-17.
Undeterred, Newark returned to the coalface and 10 minutes later responded with an excellent score of their own, after a great charge by Jordan Cooling ended up in a maul on the Melbourne line and Cooling went over to score - 8-17.
Newark continued to press hard, but were unable to convert effort into points, and it was Melbourne who would close the game out with a final try courtesy of some errant kicking by the home side. 8-24, final score.
Although the scoreboard tells its own tale, Newark can take a lot of heart from this match. Whilst not perfect, we were defensively well structured and backs and forwards worked hard together to blunt a disciplined Melbourne attack. It was encouraging that we started to find an attacking style of our own during the game and given that the lads only really come together on match day, we are beginning to play as a team. If we can get some measure of consistency in selection and training, this side could be a real handful, and certainly gave Melbourne pause for thought.
Finally, a special mention for colt Josh Barrett for a great debut first half at no.8, and to colt Toby Taylor for some legendary tackling at centre!
Next up - Southwell 2nds away
Try: Jordan Cooling
Penalty: Tom Lee