Battling 2s Lose to Matlock in Tough Fixture
By DAVID GODFREY
Newark Seconds 5, Matlock Seconds 62
A ‘thing of beauty’ this was definitely not, but if you were looking for guts and determination from a Newark side then the scenic pitches of Matlock RFC were the place to be yesterday. The Newark squad – 13 in total – included just 6 of those who had turned out against Rasen the weekend before with the rest comprised of a stalwart group of occasional players who had answered the call, pulled on a shirt and turned up ready to rumble. Showing true rugby spirit – this was a Pennant game after all – Matlock lent us a couple of useful players and the game commenced.
With Newark’s ability to go wide hampered by the fact that most of the back line were actually forwards out of position, the game plan was always going to be fairly simple – keep the ball in hand, dog it up the pitch and fight for every scrap of possession when in defence.
This actually proved remarkably effective during the first half, with the breakdown well-marshalled by Akash Bagga at scrum half (visibly restraining himself from carrying) and expert distribution from evergreen Richard Byram at number 10, who at the grand old age of 58 must be the oldest Newark player to run out for the 2s for a full 80 minutes since records began.
Although it was Matlock who opened up the scoring and continued to add points throughout the match, Newark always looked extremely dangerous in possession with Ben Wells and Rhys Davies performing a heroic number of carries and AJ (playing at centre this week), Jacob Marchant, Dick White and Ollie Shepherd (first game in 10 years) crossing the gain line every time they had the ball, Paul Sutton and Haydn Godfrey in close support.
By the end of the half, Newark had scored 5 points and probably left a couple on the pitch and the scoreline - at 26-5 - rather belied the amount of dominance the lads had held up front.
During the break, the (excellent) ref was heard to mutter that he thought the next period would be ‘a long one’ for Newark and so it was to prove. You can’t expend that amount of energy without a cost, and with the wind behind them Rasen began to deploy an effective kicking game. By the time Joe Moody went off with a concussion after a hard-working shift on the wing, Matlock had touched down another three times and the score stood at 43-5 despite the best efforts of Duncan Bryant at full back.
Ever-generous, Matlock again lent us a decent player and the game continued. Newark did have their chances with the ball in hand, and again left a couple of near-misses on the pitch, but despite an extravagant tackle count, they were always fighting a losing battle and when the ref blew the final whistle they had ceded a further 4 tries – 62-5, final score.
Funny thing was, it didn’t really feel like a defeat. Every single player gave their all and walked off the pitch with heads held high. They played some good – at times very good – rugby and showed courage and spirit in doing so. So the lads who turned up didn’t let themselves or the club down at all. The ones who didn’t turn up and for no good reason are a different story…
Thanks to Matlock for being great hosts and good luck to Joe Moody who heads off for a shoulder op in a couple of weeks and will be out for around a year and a half - we wish him well.
Next up - Notts Medics away
Try: Ben Wells