Novos 41, Rovers 34 - Fortress Vos !
By Magnus Leask
Novos are proving hard to beat at Sutherland Park as they kept their unbeaten home record intact after a victory over Hartlepool Rovers.
We welcomed back some of our squad from their absence at Westoe last week but in true grassroots fashion Chris Ward and Tom Cox were unavailable to continue their second row partnership. In addition, Jez Nash and Henry Wilson were missing from the midfield. However, it show our depth as Shaun Stewart moved from the wing to the back row, in came Ben Wollerton after returning from a broken finger and he was joined by Lewis Chater in the back three after he was rested last week. Furthermore, Stephen Hughes-Narborough returned to the squad after his hand injury.
Conditions were perfect to play a game of rugby and so it would prove as 75 points would be scored in the next 80 mins.
Novos started well and all the early energy came from us - Daniel Shuttleworth leading a counter attack fed Sam Busby who finished the 2 v 1 with a well timed pass for Lewis Chater to coast in under the posts. Conversion added by Shaun Stewart.
After ten mins Novos went in again as Busby made another break and this time did an old school centre kick for the lads to run onto. Rovers scrambled incredibly well to keep us out but we scored a phase or two later as Rich Harrison flopped over from close range. Conversion added by Stewart for an early 14-0 lead to Novos.
For the first time in the game we were unable to field the kick off and Rovers drove into our half and scored a nice try by going at us. 14-5.
We responded well by driving into Rovers half pinning them in their 22m after a good kick from Rich Harrison. This forced Rovers to clear their lines but the kick went in field rather than off the pitch. Jonny Ward punished them with a great counter attack before putting Chater in for his second try. Novos up 19-5 after 25 mins.
Momentum in the game was swinging back and forth as attack dominated defence. This time it was Rovers turn to score an excellent try to narrow the margin once again to 19-10. However, another swing as Rovers received a yellow card for their 3rd high tackle in just 30 mins of play after previously being warned by referee Paul Minto.
Next game possibly the try of the day as Shuttleworth, McDonald and Stewart were involved in putting Pete Twentyman in space. I'm sure the story will be told many times over in the next few decades but the big loosened set off for the line - 35m out perhaps ? Speedster Chaterwas in support but told his Skipper to go for it as Twentyman was chased all the way bu Rovers scrum half. Much to everyones delight Skip dove in but appeared too tired to signal to Fran in the stand as is his custom.
Rovers were not going away though and a few penalties allowed them into our 22 and their 8 crashed over to make the half time score 26-17 Novos.
They second half mirrored the first as attacks dominated play. Rovers started the stronger as they were back to 15 men - they soon scored after some fine play by their nine. Conversion added to make it game on at 26-24.
When the game was in the balance we perhaps went up another gear - bench cleared with Greg Humphreyson on at nine, Stephen Hughes-Narborough on in the back row and Zach Weatherhead also on up front. More pressure from the home team led to another yellow card as Rovers conceded their 5th high shot - a bad one this time. Stewart kicked an easy penalty before a break by the rampaging Sean Ramsay took us back into enemy territory. Play was moved to Ward who raced in for a score to stretch the lead to 36-24 after the Stewart conversion.
As is our way at Novos we then let Rovers back into the game with a couple of off sides - Rich Harrison sent to the bin for team offences - perhaps a little bit harsh as the penalty count was heavily in our favour, although Rovers did score two tries previously under penalty advantage. A man down Rovers went at us with some big carries before a fantastic piece of play by their nine led to a score under the posts with sevens mins to go - Novos up 36-31.
Novos scored the last try as they once again punished a poor kick as we moved the ball two passes away to Sam Busby. He stormed over in the corner after a 50m run and celebrated in bizarre fashion - off with cramp. Game won at 41-31 but on the last play we switched off conceding a penalty at the set piece. Rovers remained level headed and made the correct choice to go for goal - kick successful earning them a second losing point.
Final score 41-34.
Thank you to Paul for taking charge of the game. Thought your first half was fantastic and produced a quality half of rugby. Second half was a bit scrappy as the players tired and made mistakes. As always great to chat to you after the game.
Rovers - enjoyed watching your nine and the Forman lad play and great to have a chat to Chris Sainty on the side lines. Your lads carried well and got over the gain line scoring some good tries - sure you will knock over a few sides higher up the league. Think we edged it perhaps because of our finishing out wide and you had to play 20 mins down a man. Good luck for the rest of the season and we look forward to playing you in the new year.
Novos - a good week of prep and we hit all our targets for the month including a great away win at Old Rish in the National Cup. Man of the Match went to Shaun Stewart who excelled in converting back into the pack this week. Richard of the Day was awarded to Sean Ramsay who despite possibly being the strongest man on the pitch - had the ball ripped off him twice. Thought going full fat worked a treat as we won scrum ball allowing our backs a platform to attack out wide - although we had to go away from our normal attacking shape.
December is huge for us as a group as we battle Xmas Parties, Northern, Medicals and Stockton and hope to finish the first part of the season in the top five. Possible - we will require 10-12 points from those three games however.
Up the Vos !