Novos 66, Ponteland 12 - Fortress Vos Continues
By Magnus Leask
An awesome first half display (40-5) blew Ponteland away allowing us to start 2019 with a win and go 7-0 at home !
2019 started with a bang as the first team stretched their home record to played seven won seven. In addition, an incredible double achieved over a young Ponteland squad with an aggregate score of 128-32 over the two fixtures this season.
Leading into the game we had focused on winning the physical battle as well as dominating Ponteland's set piece. It was vital that we made the game uncomfortable from the off - that way their young side would struggle for confidence. As we had hoped, the match started well for Novos as the lads went at Ponteland in an effort to win the gain line battle and show we were up for the physical battles. In the early exchanges carries from Sean Ramsay and Josh Stacey led the way alongside Lewis Chater kicking us into Ponteland's 22m.
From a Ponteland throw - Chris Ward rose the highest and nicked the ball off his opponent. This led to us laying siege to Ponteland's line with almost every forward having a carry. Our opponents tackled well until Seam Ramsay burst through to score near the posts, conversion added by Shaun Stewart. Novos up 7-0.
Ponteland's kick off's were to be a real positive all day as their kicker was able to gain great height on each occasion. After our try the Ponteland pack recovered the knock down and went on the attack. They probed with a good carry from their 7 who was chopped down by Lewis Chater. However, on the next phase an inside ball picked off a poor defensive set up by us. A great response from Ponteland to make it 7-5 after ten mins.
We went back into Ponteland's half with some fine carrying and a nice out the back play. Eventually, we forced a scrum and a perfectly executed "rangi" saw Jez Nash go in for a great score off first phase ball. The Ponteland coach may not have been happy with how the 7 and 10 linked up defensively but we reaped the benefit. Unfortunately, Nash damaged ankle ligaments in executing such a great step into the hole and will be out for 6-8 weeks. However, it was great to see Old Allanian Jack Hearn come on and line up alongside Old Novocastrian, Henry Wilson - an exciting young centre combination. 14-5 Novos.
In the 15th min we again showed real desire to win the gain line battle. Ponteland were penalised at a break down and Pete Twentyman was first to react as he tapped and went. He raced away from his opposition prop before putting away a 2 on 1 with the fullback. Sam Busby was the benefactor as he raced in untouched, conversion added by Shaun Stewart to make it 21-5.
From the kick off we got a bit of luck when a wayward pass ten metres from our line bounced up for us as Henry Wilson fed Sam Busby. After this our support play was excellent as it went Busby to Wilson, then to Hearn, back to Wilson before he lifted the ball for Lewis Chater to race in under the posts. A great long distance try from under our own posts which was converted by Stewart for a 28-5 lead.
Regular fly half Rich Harrison was unavailable due to injury and Lewis Chater was making the most of his opportunity to get closer to the ball. Chater raked a grubber into Ponteland's 22 to show he was in complete control of the management of the game. An over thow from Ponteland was grabbed by veteran back rower Ben Merrett as he scored a soft score to stretch the game out to 33-5.
The first half scoring was completed with Josh Stacey bumping off a couple of would-be defenders on his way to the try line. Conversion added by Stewart for a half time score of 40-5.
We took the opportunity to rest Lewis Chater at half time in the knowledge that we are a couple of fly half's short at the club at the moment. This allowed Nick Bellamy an opportunity to get 40 mins at fly half, a chance he has been waiting for as Bellamy had started our opening game of the season at ten. However, work commitments prevented him from making the ten shirt his throughout the season. The score line also allowed us to give young front rower Euan Duncan 40 mins at loose head and rest Josh Stacey. Duncan is a fine prospect for the club and would go on to have a fine half.
We scored first in the second half despite Ponteland having the ball for the opening five mins. A strong attacked was repelled with some strong tackling by Chris Ward and Sam Busby. From one tackle, Sean Ramsay turned the ball over for Ben Merrett to gather and scoot through the break down. Busby raced up in support for the pop pass and galloped in for another 80m try. Conversion added by Stewart 47-5.
Ponteland scored next to make it 47-12 and were dominating the early mins of the second half as we lost possession occasionally by forcing off loads and going away from the basics.
We regathered our desire to keep the ball in the last quarter of the game and got back to grafting. First Ben Wollerton went in for a fine try after been fed by Henry Wilson. Wollerton executed a lovely in and away move on his opposite number for a try which was once again converted. Then came a historic occasion as it is believed Ben Merrett scored Novos first ever tighthead push over try under the current coaching set up. A proud moment for Euan Duncan, Pete Twentyman, Josh Stacey, Adam McDonald, Chris Ward, Ben Merrett, Andy Hall and Sean Ramsay. Novos up 59-12.
The score line was completed after a Nick Bellamy clean line break where he lifted the ball to Sam Busby to race in for his hat trick try - all untouched I believe. Final score 66-12.
Ponteland are in a relegation battle and we wish them well with the challenge. We have been in this position before and its about targeting certain fixtures and never giving up. After our promotion to this league we only survived by getting the win on the last day of the season ! You have an incredibly young side at the moment so the future is bright if you can keep the group together and learn lessons along the way. I thought your 7 was your best player on the day and enjoyed watching Old Allanian Patrick Holliday play 9.
Thank you to Rebecca Rees for taking charge - perhaps another historic occasion on the day if it is the first time the first team has had a female official take charge. Liked that you allowed competition for the ball at the break down and as a result the penalty count remained relatively low. Was great to have a chat to you about reffing after the game and we wish you well as you progress onwards and upwards.
Novos lads - great first up win which was secured in the first 20 mins as we had discussed during the week. We will have to take a bit more pride in keeping possession next week as at times we got a bit care free. A huge physical test awaits us next week with an away day at Whitby. Made tougher with the long term injury sustained by Jez Nash.
Man of the Match went to Adam McDonald who covered every inch of Sutherland Park during the game. However, I must add that Pete Twentyman and Lewis Chater were outstanding and the cameo's off the bench were excellent by Jack Hearn, Nick Bellamy and Euan Duncan. Richard of the Day was awarded to Sam Busby for an attempted drop goal which possibly didn't even get as high as the cross bar !
See you all at training - Up the Vos !!