Newark & Lincoln 2s Test Each Other’s Metal in Hard Fought Friendly
By DAVID GODFREY
Lincoln Seconds 13, Newark Seconds 15
In what was originally billed as a Pennant game, but subsequently changed to a ‘friendly’ due to the non-appearance of the scheduled referee, Newark and Lincoln 2s entertained spectators with a gritty arm-wrestle of a game, well officiated in the end by our own Richard Byrom, Man of Many Hats.
With the powerful wind against them in the first half, Newark had clearly adopted a policy of battening down the hatches, keeping the ball in hand, and pushing up towards the left-hand corner, after weathering the initial Lincoln onslaught. Aided by a nicely-weighted grubber kick from colt Sam Booth, who had a good outing at scrum-half, Newark gained a penalty at the breakdown, resulting in an attacking line-out 10 yards out. Frustratingly, the capricious wind forced a not-straight decision on the throw in and Lincoln got the scrum. But a well-timed scragging by Booth resulted in his opposite number losing the ball which was snaffled and set back thanks to rapid reaction by Haydn Godfrey, allowing Jason Barnsdale with Ben Wells on his shoulder to muscle over the line – 0-5 to Newark.
Lincoln, well-supplied as always with a production line of big units, came back strongly from the restart, keeping the ball secure through a rapid series of phases, before evading Newark tackles to score right in an excellent move – 5-5.
This set the scene for an extended tussle for control of the game, with some excellent defence and attack from both sides, but with neither ultimately able to break through. Eventually, it was Lincoln who managed to break the deadlock, taking advantage of a kickable penalty to go 3 points ahead – 8-5.
Newark came back in the dying minutes of the half with an excellent run up the left by the impressive Johno Marshall, who was only stopped a metre from the line by a cracking covering tackle from Lincoln.
The game started to open up at the beginning of the second period, as Newark - with the wind behind them - began to exert pressure using a superb kick by Booth to gain field position in the Lincoln 22. This set the stage for a series of set pieces, and with colt Daniel Godfrey, on his debut at hooker, giving a confident performance at both line-out and scrum alongside the mighty shoulders of Wells and Barnsdale, Newark began to get some real momentum.
With Lincoln putting in some massive tackles to keep the visitors out – Wells was stopped inches short of the line on one occasion – Newark switched from back row pick and drive to using their fast backs, with Booth sending the ball right from the base of the scrum to James Harding, who turned on the gas to outflank the defence and score on the right – 8-10.
Five minutes later, Booth scored himself, after Lincoln failed to protect the ball at the back of the scrum and he caught the defence napping – 8-15.
These were to be Newark’s last points but they continued to dominate play for the next period, attacking well, and blunting the Lincoln offence, including a particularly fine effort from colt Dan Walker on the chase and holding up the maul to stop their advance.
Lincoln, however did have a final trick up their sleeve, using some serious Newark Ill-discipline to set up an attacking scrum on the 5m line to ship the ball left and score an excellent try in the corner – 13-15, final score.
This was a gritty, whole squad effort from a changed Newark side which featured both young tyros and experienced old war-horses (step forward Martin Brown). Hard graft from the engine room of the scrum – Will Clayton and Liam Payne (returning to Newark colours) put in a commanding performance, as did the rest of the pack – coupled with some spark and fizz from a capable back line gave us a real edge.
Next up – Long Eaton at Kelham Road (weather permitting…!).
Tries: Jason Barnsdale, James Harding, Sam Booth