Novos 27, Gateshead 21 - Great Squad Depth Shown
By Magnus Leask
Novos held out Gateshead in the dying moments to complete the double over their opponents 27-21
With Horden and Westoe looming we took the opportunity to show the depth at our club by leaving out first team regulars in Daniel Shuttleworth, Darren Kelly, Sean Ramsay, Paddy Sowter, Tim Hart and give a debut to ex colt Rory Davidson. This allowed Christian Selkirk a run out against his old club as well as Alex Cleminson, Mark Leckie and Dave Marshall and Ina Pratt o continue their progress after moving up from the two's.
We started reasonably well with Alex Littlefair getting a steal at a ruck and Chris Ward was putting the Gateshead line out under pressure. This allowed us decent field position and we were able to dominate possession in the early exchanges. After some good team continuity Alex Cleminson carried between two defenders who fell off the tackle. He then stepped inside the last defender to score his first try for Novos, conversion added by Shaun Stewart. 7-0 Novos.
The kick off was turned over by Gateshead and they had possession and field position for 6-8 mins. A penalty was kicked to the corner and they drove for the line. We managed to keep them out but had to commit a lot of players around the fringes. Gateshead moved the ball out wide to score a fine team try out wide. Conversion added - great kick form out wide into a strong wind. 7 all.
Around the park was a pretty even contest but we were edging the set piece battle. A huge carry by Josh Stacey got us over the gain line and lead to a line break by Tom Winning. Gateshead conceded a penalty and Pete Twentyman made the decision to go for the three instead of the corner. Shaun Stewart obliged to give us a deserved 10-7 lead.
We were then a little bit unlucky as Tom Winning made a great cover tackle allowing us to gain possession. Paddy Goodings made a break and off loaded to Lewis Chater. He crashed over in the corner with the Gateshead linesman not putting his flag up but the ref over ruled him and said he was tackled in goal.
This didn't stop us though as Mark Leckie made a great tackle when the Gateshead looked away. Shaun Stewart and Alex Littlefair had tracked the break and fired into the ruck, turning the ball over. Rich Harrison scooped it up to Christian Selkirk - little dart and then a sick behind the back pass for Shaun Stewart to run around under the posts. He added the conversion himself to take the lead out to 17-7.
Gateshead wouldn't roll over and before half time they made the score 17-14 as their centre went in with some fantastic footwork to break a tackle and then step the last defender. He must have been well coached in his development days !
Graeme Cooper led that chat at half time asking the boys to look at balls back inside as well as stay together in defence as we will come under more pressure. The response was immediate as Rich Harrison gave an inside ball to Tom Winning who made another clean line break. Christian Selkirk then cleverly reversed play to an overlap where David Marshall put in the final pass to put Adam McDonald over to extend our lead to 22-14.
On came young Rory Davidson to make his debut - the former club colt has made some incredible progress this season coming all the way from the fours to the ones in just six months. Shows what can be achieved by attending every training session as well as putting time into his positional core skills.
Gateshead are a proud squad and once again they battled back into the game. Their fifteen was away but for an amazing cover tackle once again by Tom Winning. However, they soon scored - a soft one. Penalty conceded, quick tap taken and we weren't organised - this led to one of their players going through an unguarded area to score. Dave Marshall tried to hold the player up but couldn't - receiving a knee drop from a Gateshead players for his troubles.
With the try awarded to make the score 22-21 to Novos the referee awarded a penalty at half way for the foul play on Marshall but no card issued. Pete Twentyman opted for a scrum rather than kick into Gateshead territory - we were dominating this aspect of the game after all. Decision vindicated as Ben Wollerton stepped inside his man, fended off the covering back rower then a hand off to the Gateshead fullback. An incredible solo effort. Novos ahead 27-21.
We secured the kick off and moved up the field gradually despite being into a strong wind. The scrum was causing Gateshead all sorts of bother for no reward as almost every scrum was disintegrated on their loose head side. We had Gateshead where we wanted them as Shaun Stewart crashed over but was adjudged to have been held. Didn't look correct but we can't complain really as the pass he received was miles forward but not called.
Their was a big swing in the game at this stage as the penalty count swung Gateshead's way heavily. Ian Pratt was carded for not rolling away and we spent the last five mins defending in our 22m.
The value of kicking the first half penalty was shown as Gateshead needed a converted try to win the game. Twice I thought they could've scored out wide but chose to cut in knowing they needed the conversion. Their was some great defence from our 14 men with Tom Winning and Alex Littlefair putting in some great work. Eventually, the Gateshead ten bust through a hole and looked certain to score. However, he was gratefully wrapped up by Littlefair over the line as we held out for the win 27-21.
Thank you to Cameron Patterson for taking charge of an exciting game. I thought his communication to the players was fantastic during the match. Only annoyance would be that we received a yellow for a technical offence yet a piece of foul play was only sanctioned with a penalty.
Hard luck to the Gateshead lads - never say die attitude was tremendous as every time we scored you bounced back and put points on the board in response. Was great to sit down afterwards with some old friends in the clubhouse.
Novos - a great win that sets us up well for Horden and Westoe. Not to sure how it ever got that desperate but we nearly paid the price for not finishing our chances. Some great decisions by the skipper proved vital in the end and I am sure the two ex Gateshead lads were delighted to get the win.
Man of the Match was given to Tom Winning and I thought Alex Littlefair was also outstanding.
Up the Vos !