Novos 24, Horden 12 - Ole.
By Magnus Leask
A great defensive effort and a desire to play high tempo rugby saw Novos beat 4th placed Horden 24-12.
on the back of two good training sessions we went into this match with a lot of confidence, despite our opponents being in a much higher league position. We felt if we defended well and kept the tempo high we stood a good chance of causing an upset.
We were into a slight breeze in the first half but started on the front foot as Sam Rowntree, Martin Fearon and Nick Arbuckle got us over the gain line. This allowed Andrew Maxwell and Greg Humphreyson to move the ball wide as we had hoped. After a spell of pressure Humphreyson landed a well struck penalty to make it 3-0.
The boys were executing the game plan beautifully as we tapped and went, took quick lineout and kicked over the top to move the big Horden side around. In defence, we tore off the line and smashed into their big one out runners. Unfortunately despite dominating the game we did not take our chances as we blew several opportunities to score.
We did manage to score just before the end of the half as we went off the top at a lineout. The ball was moved wide with a beautiful cut out pass from Jez Nashto Carl Parkinson. After breaking the line he threw a huge pass out to Jonno Wilkes who beat the covering defender with a hand off. Humphreyson added the conversion from the sideline which is quickly becoming "Gregs Corner" for a 10-0 lead at half time.
We were delighted with how we were playing but concerned that our missed opportunities might come back to haunt us.
Horden started the second half on attack as we dropped the kick off. This gave them their first spell of pressure in the whole match. The rumbled towards the line and Rowntree was yellow carded for not rolling away from a collapsed maul. Horden had their tails up now with a man advantage and the wind behind them. After a long time on our line they burrowed over for a converted try. Novos 10, Horden 7.
We were having a spell of inaccuracy as Horden went straight back on the attack from a dropped clearing kick. Again Horden ran into us forcing us back to our own line. They scored again just before Rowntree came out of the bin to make it 12-10 to Horden.
Restored to 15 men we again got on top via a Tommy Goodman steal at a beakdown, line breaks from Pete Twentyman, Jez Nash and Sam Busby. Horden once again struggled with the tempo we had created. Martin Fearon carried the ball twice in quick succession dragging us forward. An offload from Fearon allowed Nash to carry it forward before he then offloaded to Busby with space in front of him. Off he went to score under the posts, conversion added by Humphreyson. Novos back in the lead 17-10.
The game was then on the line and we changed our play slightly by kicking in behind them. It turned out to be a good ploy as Horden seemed unlikely to score from distance. From a lineout won by Josh Igoe the backs used a simple shape to put Busby between two defenders. Busby ran the 40m for a fine try and a cuddle with ex pres Willis who was behind the posts at the time. Conversion added by Humphreyson to make the final score 24-12.
Thank you to our Spanish exchange ref Jorge Dominguez who I thought was excellent throughout. He set his stall out early by whistling players who didn't roll away. His decision making was very accurate and his hand signals countered our lack of players fluent in Spanish. I hope he enjoyed the experience and we are grateful for having an opportunity to be reffed by someone from another country.
Horden lads - once again you won the scrum battle, your lineout was fantastic and you really had us under the cosh at times in the second half. We were grateful that your normal fullback/flyhalf was not playing as he would have been a handful with all the ball you had in the second half. We hope that you can now do as a few favours and beat the sides around us during the remainder of the season and hold onto your top four spot.
Our lads - great effort putting into action our game plan. Much improved defensive effort and some fine high tempo rugby in attack. Really looking forward to taking on West Leeds next week. Fantastic opportunity to play against a new opponent. See you all at training.