West End 1st XV 0-40 Novos 3rd XV
By Jack Pellew
Novos beat West End in the Plate Semi Final to set up a final and a chance for the first club silverware of the season
Novos beat West End in the No. 4 Plate Semi Final to set up a Plate Final and a chance for the first club silverware of the season when they meet either Gosforth Phoenix or Blyth 2nd XV on March 23rd.
Tries from John Marshall, Ross Connell, Isaac Robinson, Luke Foster, Justin Taylor and Jonny Bulfin, with 5/6 conversions added by Jonny Winterhalder shows an impressive score line for a game in which the away side were comfortably dominant from the start.
Good performances up front from Gus Graham, Ant McQuillan and Brendan Thomas helped to neutralise West End’s only real threat – a powerful scrummage. Young Colt Jack Shanahan (who has played regularly for the 3’s and 4’s this season in addition to his Sunday Colt matches) had a chance to learn some tricks of the trade from old-head-but-certainly-not-yet-a-vet Kit Sørensen, and a back three of new recruits for 2018/9 Charlie Willis, Cam Carmichael and Ross Connell completed the back row.
A late fitness test fail by Rory Davidson afforded Justin Taylor the 9 shirt; a welcome return to the red, black and white for an experienced game manager whose appearances have been seldom this season. Jack Pellew completed the half-back partnership, proudly captaining the strongest side he has had available to him all season. A new centre partnership of Jonny Winterhalder and Luke Forster offered speed and direct running, while the starting line-up was completed by an experienced back three of Jonny Bulfin and Isaac Riobinson on the wings, with last season’s captain John Marshall returning for a run out at full back.
The bench boasted strength, depth and a range of experience, with everyone joining the fold to get a run out. Thanks to the travelling substitutes who all made an impact in a hard fought forwards battle when they took to the field. Alan Pitchford, Alex Cokeley, Stephen Hughes-Narborough, Ross Cleminson and when he eventually turned up with 15 minutes to spare, Andy Hall.
Man of the match was awarded to Brendan Thomas for combining an excellent tight game with ball carrying, handling and defensive commitment.
Richard of the day went to Andy Hall for arriving at West End with a mere 15 minutes of the match left to be played.
The whole squad put in an excellent defensive shift, starving West End of both possession and territory and denying them any points. It’s always great to nil a team, and even more satisfying in a semi-final. We’ll be looking to carry forward that momentum into the Final, and will be eagerly awaiting the confirmation of time, venue and opposition for our Final.
Things are looking promising at Novos this season. There’s been several weeks where we’ve been able to run four senior men’s sides on a Saturday, a feat that I think only us and Morpeth have been able to do this season. Our 1st XV were unbeaten at home until the end of January, and have still only lost one home game, currently sitting 6th in D&N1 24 points clear of 7th and 2 points shy of 5th, with a League and National Cup double header against Westoe on Saturday.
Our 2nd XV have had a difficult season in a very strong CANDY league, but have taken some big scalps against Middlesborough 2’s, DMP 2’s and the old enemy Northern Wanderers. As all good 2nd teams should do, they have supported the first team squad throughout, often with last minute call ups. They have been a platform for new players to develop and achieve their first team caps, with players such as Alex Cleminson and Rory Davidson earning their first team call-ups after good performances with the twos. They now have a No. 2 Plate Final to look forward to themselves on April 6th.
The 3rd XV (or Development Team) have had a difficult season, playing in a competitive league often against 2nd teams. We have had good wins against Ryton 2s, West End (League and Cup) and League leaders Rockcliff 2’s, and ran Berwick 2’s close away from home. The 16 lads who were selected for the game against Blaydon played their hearts out against a very good opposition side containing regular Blaydon 1st team players, and the score line was irrelevant on a day where many other clubs would have bottled the fixture.
The 4th XV (Centurions) have managed to put a side out most weeks against all odds. They’ve put together some good results with wins against Percy Park Pumas, Rockcliff Rangers and more recently Ryton 2nd XV, and will look to carry on the positivity for the rest of the season.
Four Teams One Club. Up the Vos