Novos 17, Gateshead 11 - Gosforth In Our Sights
A strong defensive performance was the foundation for a 17-11 win. The win closes the gap to Gosforth to just two points with just two games to go.
We went into this game on the back of two good training sessions but there was bad news as centre, Jez Nash was unable to recovery from a foot injury sustained last week. In came Ben Kelly from the two's with Rory Duncan switching to inside centre, his fourth position in the back line this season.
As hoped, our forwards started the game on top in the set piece as Tommy Goodman, Ollie Dearden, Pete Twentyman, Iain Dodds and Chris Ward drove the Gateshead tight five backwards at almost every opportunity. Unfortunately, we didn't get much reward for our dominance as Gateshead were able to clear the ball away.
We scored first via a Greg Humphreyson penalty to make it 3-0 but Gateshead came back with a penalty of their own to make it 3-3 after a tight 15 mins. Gateshead were making a number of breaks through Pluskall and Hellbeck but didn't capitalise on these occasions as Martin Fearon made tackle after tackle.
We worked our way into Gateshead 22 on the back of some good line out ball from Chris Ward and Nick Arbuckle. The forwards got us over the gain line and created space out wide. The Gateshead defence pushed hard to cover the space allowing Humpreyson to step off his right twice and go over next to the post. He converted his own try to make the lead 10-3 after 30 mins.
Then came the try of the match as Novos went bang, bang. Straight from the kick off we ran the ball from deep. The ball was fed to Sam Busby who beat a couple of defenders to break through. He drew the fullback with a hook shot Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would have been proud of (La Laker from my childhood) Lewis Chater took the ball at full pace to run in a 70m try, conversion added by Humphreyson to make it 17-3 with 8 mins to play.
Gateshead finished a two and fro first half on top and kicked a penalty to make the half time score 17-6 to Novos.
We were playing pretty well at times and defending how we trained - get off the line and make some decent contact. Fearon was leading the tackle count and there had been some good hits from Sam Rowntree, Iain Dodds as well as some decent two man choke tackles leading to turnovers.
During the second half we lost accuracy at times. We were still dominating at scrum time but lost at least three line outs in Gateshead 22m which denied us spells of pressure. Instead, Gateshead come at us and scored a good try wide out to close the gap to 17-11 with fifteen mins to play.
We defended in numbers and there were strong cameos off the bench from Andrew Steinberg, Josh Igoe and Richard Dodd. We made Gateshead chase the game from deep as Humphreyson kicked to the corners, turning Gateshead round time and time again. The service provided by Andrew Maxwell at nine had allowed Humphreyson to pick his spot.
Huge moment in the game as Cartner broke down the side line to score, try awarded. However, Dave Thompson the Gateshead linesman had put his flag up and kept it up despite the refs whistling the score. A real rugby moment as he rightly denied his club from scoring the winning try. I have known Dave for a very long time, a real rugby man, a servant of the game.
Despite the set back Gateshead turned the resulting line out over and spent the final mins of the game in our 22. We defended in numbers and again finished the game with a two man tackle that resulted in a maul. The maul collapsed as Novos were able to hear the final whistle for an important win 17-11.
Some sad scenes after the final whistle as some of the Gateshead players had a go at Graham Crozier. The ref did well to stay calm and not red card two of the Gateshead players in particular. Personally, I thought he whistled loads of really good decisions for and against us. During the 80 mins I was annoyed at one poor decision which I didn't think was material but think he got the other 115 pretty right ! Graham is a good lad and I would happily have him ref our matches every week. Over the 80 mins I thought we were the better side and deserved to win, which had nothing to do with how the game was reffed.
To our lads, a great performance from the forwards. Pete Twentyman hit ruck after ruck and Nick Arbuckle and Martin Fearon covered every blade of grass. In the backs, Andrew Maxwell and Greg Humphreyson controlled play well. Rory Duncan played well filling in at inside centre. Sam Busby and Lewis Chater had great moments in the game adding pace and skill to the game when on the ball.
A huge win for the club against very tough opposition. That puts us just two points behind Gosforth which is our home fixture next week. Massive match for the Ringtons Cup, possibly leap frogging them and avoiding a relegation match against Hartlepool on the last day of the season. Next weeks squads should be bolstered by the return of some of our students back from uni for Easter break. Much needed, as we lost Lewis Chater and Rory Duncan today due to injury.
Lets' get to training this week in numbers with only three weeks of the season left. Up the Vos !