Novos 32, Barnard Castle 36 - Two Points Gained
By Magnus Leask
Novos battled back from 24-5 down, over came three yellow cards to lead 32-29 before Barney scored the winner with two mins to play.
An action packed game was played out on a sunny but wind swept afternoon at Barnard Castle. Novos travelled with a strong squad with the absence of Paddy Sowter at nine at Josh Stacey at loosened the only real absences. In came Greg Humphreyson to play in the unfamiliar role of nine and Euan Duncan got a rare start in he front row.
Barnard Castle dominated early proceedings as we struggled with their scrum, especially the angle of their loosehead. We were under pressure from the off as Barnard Castle spent the first ten mins in our 22m. They scored two tries in the first 15 mins as we struggled to get into the game. Matters were not helped as Jonny Ward was carded for a deliberate knock on.
We finally managed to get some go forward and had success in the breakdown winning a few steals by putting numbers into the breakdown. From one such penalty Rich Harrison kicked into the corner. Alex Littlefair secured possession and we drove Barney over the line for Pete Twentyman to score. Barney 12, Novos 5.
It was pretty even around the park but we were hammered by Barnard Castle's scrum who denied us front foot ball on our possession and won the odd penalty on their ball. Greg Humphreyson was lucky to not be binned for not back ten at a quick tap however a few phases later Tom Cox was carded forcing in the side. It looked incredibly harsh but to be fair we could've been carded at the tap. Barnard Castle went in twice to make the score 24-5 but we were the last to score as Sean Ramsay went over despite us being down a man. 24-12 to Barney at half time but we were buoyed by the fact we had scored two tries whilst down to 14 men.
We spoke at half time about getting into them and applying pressure to their ten who was perhaps having it a bit easy. On came Ben Merrett and Henry Wilson to lift the lads. However, Barnard Castle were able to use their man advantage again to make it 29-12 with their second push over try.
Despite the score line Barnard Castle were starting to tire and we started winning our own scrums and getting over the gain line with ease. An incredible transformation occurred as we were suddenly all over them. First Jonny Ward raced in to make it 17-29 before our other speedster Sam Busby went in to make it 22-29 with 20 mins to play.
Our dominance continued as the wind emptied out of Barnard Castle's play and they started arguing with each other. We were in complete control during this period and were unlucky not to be rewarded further as what can only be described as a two footed slide tackle on Luke Menzfeld not only went unpunished but resulted in a holding on penalty.
The lads were on fire during this 20 min period and we went in again as Sam Busby tore through the defence once again to make it 27-29. The Novos supporters couldn't believe the transformation as Barnard Castle were unable to respond to Novos domination. Incredible scenes continued as Adam McDonald crashed over to make it Novos 32, Barnard Castle 29 with just eight mins to play. Could this be the greatest comeback Novos have ever had ?
In the final moments there were some things that led to Barnard Castle's eventual win - Harrison kicked a beauty into the corner however the 15 beat 2-3 defenders to advance back up to half way when we should really have been in behind them. They won a penalty and Alex Littlefair was yellow carded for sacking the maul. The conversion was kicked which was important as Barney now led by 4 so a penalty would not be enough for us to win the game.
A man down, Novos poured forward as Jonny Ward skinned their centre and was heading for the try line when the 15 came across and tackled him high. No penalty, no card but we were awarded a scrum so continued our attack with just 90 secs left on the clock. Barnard Castle were able to concede pens due to their four point lead. With time up on the clock we kicked to the corner about 15 metres short of the try line. However, the line out was stolen and the ball kicked out for a Barnard Castle win 36-32.
We were all a bit unsure how to feel as it looked like we were going to lose by 30+ points, then we had the game cruelly taken away from us but did pick up two losing bonus points. An incredible game for the neutral which saw six tries scored by both teams, Novos battle three yellow cards to none and the loss of Euan Duncan and George Bambrick to injury. For these reasons we can view it as two points won rather than two points lost.
Thank you to the ref - the game was played in great spirits and you allowed teams to compete at the breakdown. I thought we deserved to be carded three times and feel that the dominated 45 out of the 80 mins so perhaps deserved the win.
To Barney, amazing hospitality as always. We were unable to find a way to de-power your scrum in the first 45 mins and your three push over tries from scrums and one from a line out showed your domination. It was an incredible game to be a part of and we wish you well for the rest of the season.
Our boys - a great weekend which saw us put four sides out for the first time this season, the 2's beating Mowden Park 2's at home and the 1's battling back from an impossible position to gain two league points. Lots to celebrate including the ladies winning on their exhausting travels half way down the country.
Up The Vos !!