Novos Silence Consett 38-13
Martin Fearon wins this week headline competition as a much changed Novos defeated a much changed Consett 38-13.
Squad - Goodman, Whitaker, Twentyman, Stewart, Dodds, Burgess, Fearon, Littlefair, Selkirk, Duncan R, Bass, Nash, Busby, Kay, Wilkes, Ball, Merrett, Melrose.
After an opening day win vs Hartlepool we had to change our squad due to unavailability and the odd injury. League debuts for Daniel Whitaker, Alastair Burgess, Martin Fearon and Rory Duncan. In addition, back into the squad were Iain Dodds, Peter Kay, Joe Ball and Ben Melrose.
With Consett's pitch undergoing new drainage works we happily moved to the artificial pitch at the adjacent leisure centre. Our opponents walked to the pitch rather slowly but obviously fired up with swear word after swear word. We had beaten Consett four out of the last five times and it was easy to see that they wanted to address the situation.
Consett started with real physicality and were much heavier than us upfront. Whilst trying to run the ball from our own 22m one of their lads put in a decent tackle and they were able to win a penalty. 3-0 to Consett. During the first 15 mins we made a lot of mistakes as expected with eight changes in the team. This allowed Consett a lot of possession and territory which they used to their advantage to kick another well struck penalty. 6-0 Consett.
We were under pressure at the set piece at times but our loose forward trio of Burgess, Fearon and Alex Littlefair got us some turnovers in general play. Our first try came from one of these turnovers as Sam Busby broke from our own 22m, fed James Bass who kicked ahead. Fearon then clearly out paced Busby and Bass to dot the ball down ! Conversion missed but we were starting to counter attack well. Novos 5, Consett 6.
Novos then took the lead as the ball was won in midfield by Peter Kay after a good hit by Busby. Ball carried forward and Consetts 15 made a tackle. With little cover in the back field Selkirk executed a perfect box kick for Busby to race through and score. Half time score 10-6.
Consett and Novos games in the past few seasons have been close affairs and it was not a surprise that Consett came straight back. From a scrum 5m from our line their midfielder was able to crash over in a tackle and stretch out to place the ball on the line. Conversion added from out in front. Consett up 13-10 with just 5 mins gone in the first half.
We were living off scraps at times but there were signs that Consett's big pack were starting to tire as the scrum settled down and the backs began to find a lot of space. From one such scrum the ball was fed to the backs and a beautiful shape allowed Busby to get the ball out the back. He tore through to score, conversion added by Wilkes for a 17-13 lead.
We were edging the battle around the pitch now, mainly due to our direct play upfront and in midfield. After a series of carries the ball was fed to Wilkes on the short side with Consetts massive prop standing opposite him. Wilkes jinked his way between the two forwards and raced away leaving the cover in his wake. Conversion added by Wilkes himself from the corner to make it 24-13 to Novos.
The game hung in the balance when Rory Duncan was injured in a tackle. Duncan had been impressive on debut leading the back line well. He played on and we worked our way into Consett's 22m with some direct play up front. The ball was then passed out wide for Busby to slip a few tackles despite not having space to go over again. Conversion added by Wilkes to make it 31-13. That try allowed us to take off a badly limping Duncan and move Wilkes to ten.
The match was still pretty even up front but the dangerous Novos back line was making a number of breaks. After a turnover from Fearon the ball was in the hands of Bass who made a break. A chip by Bass over the top fell into the hands of Busby who went under the posts for his fourth try, converted by Wilkes for a 38-13 lead. Consett's 1,8 and 15 showed a bit of disrespect by not going under their posts (hate this) but I guess that try was against the run of play at the time.
Consett never gave up and still had a lot to say as they finished the game in our 22m. However, our defence held out to secure a 38-13 win.
A great win for our lads against a side that finished above us last season. They were very good upfront but I did not recognise many faces in their back line. I think the game could have been very different if they had of got further ahead when we were finding our feet in the first 15-20 mins. They were outplaying us but only got 6 points ahead in that first quarter as they dropped the ball when breaks were perhaps on. They have several backs to come back so I am sure they will return to form and work their way back into a challenge for promotion. We wish them well and I am sure it will be another great game in the return fixture later in the season.
For our lads, well done. A pretty patched up side with a few regular second teamers (Whitaker, Joe Ball, Ben Melrose) stepping up and showing their ability. In addition, great debuts from the four new lads, strong scrummaging performances from Tommy Goodman and Pete Twentyman. The rest of the forwards were very good against a strong Consett pack with Iain Dodds and Shaun Stewart in the row. Perhaps the biggest influence upfront however was the play of our loose forwards. The foursome were well balanced and complimented each other well - Alastair Burgess, Martin Fearon, Alex Littlefair and Ben Merrett were relentless in defence and turned a lot of ball over. Out wide, Selkirk distributed well and he and Rory Duncan pulled the strings beautifully in the back line. The midfield pairing of Jez Nash and Sam Busby look a real threat in attack. Benefitting from their play were the wide men in Peter Kay, James Bass and Jonno Wilkes. After just one season Wilkes looks to have really grown as a player and now looks at home in the senior game. He was brilliant at fullback in this game, making a lot of breaks and often doing the right thing at the right time.
Thank you to the ref. No issues, no fights, just a good game of rugby between two teams that like to move the ball.
This week we have Medicals away, try to pick up a game for our 2/3's squads and the 4's play at Winlaton. See you all at training on Monday with me, Kev, Andy and Gareth. Then Thursdays session whe Rob Vickers will be down to do some front row work.
Up the Vos !