Novos 37, Gosforth 34 - Wilkes Whacks Winner
By Magnus Leask
Jonno Wilkes put 14 man Novos ahead with five mins to play and then Novos tough it out for the win.
Squad News - Twentyman, Dias, Duncan E, Ward, Wallace, Hughes-Narborough, Ramsay, Littlefair, Porter, Chater, Wollerton, Nash, Busby, Bass, Wilkes, Taylor, McDonald, Spencer. League debuts for Steven Hughes-Narborough (ex Boro) Callum Taylor (ex Aberdeenshire) and Novos Colt Cameron Spencer.
We had two great sessions prior to this fixture and were happy with our game plans. As expected, Gosforth didn't commit at the breakdowns so we attacked the space the offered us. After some strong carries we had worked our way into Gosforth territory and were awarded a scrum in front of the posts. A nice shape of the back as Billy Porter interested two men before feeding Jonno Wilkes to go in untouched. Conversion added for an early 7-0 lead.
From the kick off Sean Ramsay carried us over the gain line and we recycled possession. We were lucky to catch a break as a stray pass bounced of a leg and the Gosforth lads stopped for a moment. We scooped up the ball and kept playing as Chris Ward through an offload which sat up for Sam Busby to put Ben Wollerton in at the corner. 12-0 lead via a lucky try when the ball bounced for us rather than Gosforth.
Gosforth finally settled into the game and caused us some problems at scrum time on our ball. Winning possession in our half they moved the ball from one side to the other before a beautiful cross field kick was caught for an excellent score. Our opponents had found some confidence and were on the front foot and carrying well. They kicked a penalty to close the gap further before taking the lead with a converted try to make it 12-15. They weren't done there though as they went in again on the 30 min mark to increase their lead to 12-20.
With half time approaching it was our turn to put the squeeze on our opponents. Some fine play by the backs saw Lewis Chater pick off a mismatch and then put it inside to Wilkes. The last Gosforth defender tried to stay with his man but Wilkes outpaced the inside defender to run it in from 60m. We were back in the hunt at 17-20 and trying to play the high tempo rugby we had spoke about at training. From the kick of we kept the ball moving as Jez Nash put a lovely pass out to Wollerton. He was heading for the corner but was tackled by the last defender. We recycled possession before a Gosforth player was judged to have been cynical in trying to stop play. Richard Gates awarded us a penalty try and yellow carded the Gosforth defender. Half time came with Novos ahead 24-20.
With Gosforth a man down we tried to keep the ball moving with quick pick and go play and the odd break at wide. We had worked our way to the Gosforth line as our pack took over. After several attempts at the line Pete Twentyman crashed over with a good latch driving him through the tackle on the edge of the ruck. Sideline conversions added by Wilkes for a 31-20 lead.
Not long after Gosforth were reinstated to 15 they then received their second yellow of the match for no arms in a tackle. However, Gosforth seems to use this to lift themselves and crashed over for a try. With the conversion added it was Novos 31, Gosforth 27 with about 12 mins to play.
Gosforth under pressure with a man in the bin conceded 2-3 penalties which allowed us to work our way up the field. Another penalty allowed us to march into the 22m and more pressure lead to a penalty in front of the posts 10m out. Some decent play by us but Gosforth had lost a bit of composure to concede so many penalties in a short space of time. Wilkes kicked the penalty to make it 34-27.
Derby games are always an intense affair and this was no different. With about ten mins to play Jamie Wallace was yellow carded leaving Novos to play the rest of the game a man down. Our opponents crashed over for a try with the conversion added from wide out to make it 34-34. We used the kick off to pin Gosforth in and had a good spell of possession. A huge moment came when Wilkes appeared to jink round several players for the winning try. However, the ref disallowed the try and gave us a scrum as Wilkes had ran near an injured player during his path to the line. From the scrum we carried to 10m from the try line. Gosforth conceded another penalty at the breakdown for Wilkes to step up and put us ahead with 8 mins to play.
Gosforth were now dominating our 7 man scrum and had several moments of pressure in the final minutes - 3 penalties in our 22m which they kicked into the corner. Somehow Novos held out with some great try line defence with important tackles coming from Alex Littlefair and Cameron Spencer. It was appropriately left to Wilkes to kick the ball into touch for the win and he received a decent whack after the kick for his troubles.
Thank you to Ringtons for putting on another great occasion which will be remembered for many dramatic moments during the game.
Thanks to the Gosforth boys for a real battle and to Richard Gates for taking charge of the game. It was great to see both coaches having a pint with him in the bar and discussing the game honestly and openly.
Novos boys - great to get the win after losing to Gosforth twice last year including a very poor performance at home last season. Thought training had a big impact on how many points were able to score although we will need to improve in defence. Huge displays from our front rowers against a much heavier pack. Adam McDonald had a great cameo off the bench and Ramsay, Hughes-Narborough, Tom Dias and Littlefair were role models in defence and spirit. Chater, Nash and Busby linked up when given opportunities and Wilkes was very good throughout. Great to have a good sing in the changing rooms after a win like that !
Next week we travel to Barnard Castle before playing Durham in a tough fortnight of rugby for the squad. However, help is due to arrive as the likes of Iain Dodds/Martin Fearon return from hols and Nick Arbuckle returns to the area.
Up the Vos !