The Novos pack laid the platform for the win by keeping possession and denying Medicals the ball for long periods. The 2's and 3's also won.
Novos got through a difficult week after late unavailability of James Parkinson and Jez Nash completely changed the make up of the back line. Back rower Shaun Stewart was asked to step in and get us moving forward. The game was probably won on Thursday night as over 50 players trained and the first team worked on a game plan to overcome the unavailability of some very good players.
Medicals started well regathering a high hanging kick off and built pressure. We eventually gave away a penalty which was kicked to put Medicals 3-0 ahead.
Our forwards were executing the game plan beautifully as we took Meds on up front especially around the edge of the ruck. We were able to keep possession into the wind and Shaun Stewart was getting the backline moving forward. After a lot of direct play we took a lateral option out wide and Sam Busby powered out of a two man tackle into space. Busby then ran 50-60m to dot down near to the posts as the cover defence couldn't catch him. Greg Humphreyson added the conversion. Novos up 7-3.
Medicals were creating some space out wide but made a few errors when breaks were on. They managed to kick a penalty to close the gap to 7-6 before our forwards drove us back into Medicals territory. From a ruck Billy Porter probed the edge of the Meds defence before riding a huge hit to put Shaun Stewart into a gap. Stewart fended off the cover defender to go in for a try converted by Humphreyson to make it 14-6.
The to and fro nature continued as Medicals scored a try after a mis read in defence was followed up by another and Med winger went in for an easily avoidable try. Novos still up 14-11.
We then had a great spell of pressure resulting in to Humphreyson penalties to push the score out to 20-11 but Meds came back at us again after we missed a 1 v 1 tackle out wide for another avoidable score. Game on 20-16.
With our forwards dominant around the park we looked to take a grip on the game as Humphreyson kicked a penalty and Meds then received a yellow card for persistent offences on their goal line. From the quick tap Busby crashed over and Humphreyson converted to make 30-16. Unfortunately, we have not won many games and there was still some nervousness despite the score line. Meds scored two late tries before Humphreyson kicked a penalty to make it 33-28 with two mins to play.
A Meds win would have been viewed as robbery but it nearly occurred as a penalty was kicked to within 5 metres of the line. However, the Los pack smashed into it and turned the ball over to win a penalty. One last line out win and the ball was kicked into touch by young Sam Dayson for a much needed victory of our closest rivals.
Thank you to our exchange ref who made some very brave decisions with confidence. I thought he did very well although the last 15 mins was a bit hectic and scrappy. Was great to see him stay behind after the match for a chat with both coaches before travelling back home.
Cheers to the Meds boys, another close fixture played in good spirits.
To our lads, a great day - three out of four wins and this one the most important given our form so far this season. The boys carried out the game plan pretty well over the course of the game and it counted. Peter Twentyman worked incredibly hard throughout with a high ruck count and a desire to play. Ben walker had a nice cameo off the bench after a few weeks out. Chris Ward and Nick Arbuckle won us a lot of line out ball. However, the big difference was in the back row which saw the return of Martin Fearon and Sean Ramsay. In addition, ex Gosforth Alex Cokeley had another good performance backing up his display against Blyth last week. In the backs Billy Porter, Greg Humphreyson and Ben Wollerton controlled field position much better than in past matches. Shaun Stewart rolled back the years playing at 12 and got us over the gain line every time he touched the ball. Sam Busby scored two tries and saved a certain score chasing down Joe Battle in the first half.
Next week we are on our travels to take on second placed Consett. Always a great match against them and we should go there with confidence after this win. In addition, competition for places will be high with the return of several players next week - Charlie Ward, Josh Igoe, Steven Hughes-Narborough, James Parkinson, Jez Nash, Rory Duncan and Tom Brown.
See you all at training - up the Vos !