Novos 25, Stockton 24 - Absolutely Positively Vos
By Magnus Leask
A feel good factor around the club over the weekend paved the way for the 1's and 2's to win their matches in the last fives mins.
The weekend started with a very positive colts meeting on Friday night as the club looks to take care of its future. It was great to share some fond memories, rugby nightmares and hear Shaun Stewart talk so passionately about his move from youth to senior rugby.
Saturday saw our 2's play Westoe 2's in an early 1230 kick off. The game looked in the balance due to some missed opportunities but we eventually came through to win the game in the final two mins. During this game some of the 3's and 4's arrived for a meeting lead by Tommy Wilson to ensure the club continues to run four sides - opposing modern trends at clubs around us.
Our opponents, Stockton arrived in fine form after beating Gateshead which caused for some noise about expectations this season. We had taken some positives from the bonus point loss at West Hartlepool but were still the underdogs.
The first score in the match came just after we missed a penalty. The Stockton flyhalf cleared the ball to Paddy Sowter who engaged a few defenders before switching back to Jonny Ward. Jonny ghosted past a mismatched defender and beat the fullback to score near the posts. Conversion added by Shaun Stewart to make it 7-0 to Novos on six mins.
As expected Stockton battled back to kick a penalty and score a try from what initially looked like an awful kick which as rugby balls do - took a wicked bounce into the hands of their winger for a try.
The see saw nature of the match would continue all day as the last 15 mins of the half was all us as Shaun Stewart kicked a long range penalty then Sam Busby was involved in earning us a penalty try to put us up 17-8 at half time. The Vos crowd were a bit surprised that the offender was not sin binned as well as the 7 pointer awarded.
Graeme Cooper coaching the side made some alterations as he had to deal with the loss of both second rows in Chris Ward and Kit Sorenson due to injury. Whatever was said in the circle worked as Ben Wollerton raced in from 40m after a show and go. Novos up 22-8 but Stockton were never just going to well over. Back they came scoring three penalties and a try to make it 24-22 to Stockton with 15 mins to play.
Stockton fly half was using a strong breeze well and most of our set pieces were deep in our own territory. However, we were now winning the set piece battle as Stockton's line out faltered and we won some scrum pens. A change in the last ten mins to our tactics paid dividends as we went to playing round the corner with pick n go's. This narrowed the defensive line which led to us breaking out of our own 22m a couple of times. With the game on the line we drove 90 metres up the pitch and earned a penalty which Greg Humphreyson kicked to give us the lead 25-24 with two mins to play.
Once again we broke from our 22m and ended up near Stockton's line after breaks from Greg Humphreyson, Sam Busby and Jez Nash. We won two scrum pens which caused Stockton to change back to their original front row. With the last play of the game we were turned over in possession and Stockton had a six on three overlap. However, their flyhalf through a huge miss pass to the last defender. Whilst the ball was in the air Sam Busby was able to race across in cover and bundled the attacker into touch to seal the win !
Thank you to the ref although he didn't have a great deal to do as the match was played in good spirit once again. Cheers to our other sides for watching us play as both balconies were full. Thanks to Stockton for the match which could've gone either way right up until the last play.
To our lads - there is a great environment at the moment in training and at matches which is overcoming the usual early season unavailability. Who would've thought we'd do so well at scrum time given that there were eight front rowers missing from the top two sides this weekend. A real pack effort to overcome this unavailability. Sean Ramsay was voted man of the match by Stockton, his second award in a row !
Next week we travel to Ponteland who had a good day on Saturday themselves and will be confident taking us on. However, we will prepare well and hope for continued progress in our performance.
Up the Vos !