Vets kick off opening weekend in style!
By Chris Ward
Novos Vets got back to winning ways with a hard fought win over Coastal rivals Whitley Bay Rockcliff.
The fixture was the first event of our weekend celebrations for the opening of our new facilities at Sutherland Park, and the Vets threw the gauntlet down to the rest of the club with a 31-21 win over old friends and rivals Rockliff.
Novos started up the slope at a frantic pace, with some slick handling and dazzling footwork allowing goal hanging Skipper Leonard to latch on to the end of the moves to score two tries in the opening 10 minutes.
Another mazy Shackleton run and some classic offloading sent Douthwaite under the posts to make it 19-0 after 20 minutes. This was easy, or so we thought. Rockcliff then remembered that they had 15 forwards on the pitch and they kept it tight, played for territory down the slope, and scored two converted tries to make it 19-14 at half time. During this period, Novos had been forced to do some reshuffling, with Dr Dave, the fine athlete that he is, pulling a goujon, Tommy Wilson dislocating the same shoulder that he did on tour to France in May, and Crofty with a nasty gash (just like old times....)
Some strong words at half time, an instruction to play for territory down the slope, and a rethink of our defensive line out, put a halt to the Rockcliff renaissance and after 20 minutes or so, Novos got the decisive score, a Penalty Try, after Supershack was somewhat cynically taken out en route to scoring. Novos took advantage of their extra man with some crisp passing from the backs putting Douthers over in the corner for his second of the game.
Rockcliff have never been a side to lie down and give up though, and they came back with a strong final flourish to score under the posts to make it 31-21 to Novos at the final bell.
So, some thanks and mentions in dispatches. Firstly to Russ, Noel and the rest of the Rockliff lads for coming across and helping us celebrate our re-opening. There's always been a good relationship between the two clubs, and it was great to continue that, and unlike some clubs, they fielded a genuine Vets team, which was appreciated. It still hurts when Noel Mather tackles you though.
Many thanks to Paul for reffing, never easy when it's your own club but he had a decent game, albeit he forgot his red card, and also to tell the first man at the breakdown to roll away! Thanks to those who sorted out the catering and hospitality off the pitch also.
It's good to see that some things never change for Novos Vets. Cooper, Stevie G and Douthwaite as tenacious as ever. Will Moses continuing to play into his 6th decade, he even bought a new pair of boots, albeit with Velcro straps cos laces are a bit tricky at his time in life. Gus and Tommy renewing their centre partnership of the last 50 years, Nipper still moaning and whinging like he did back in the day, Gus getting his little friend out for the team photo, Chater Senior showing son and new 1st team player Lewis how to get through 80 minutes whilst avoiding all contact, and glory boy Leonard doing nothing apart from being on the end of the moves to fall over the line.
Thanks to all the Vets for making the effort to turn out, and to keep raging against the dying of the light. Debuts for big Gav, who played a full 40 minutes without getting injured, Rob Taylor a useful addition at prop, and products of our youth system, Chris Curson and Lee Earley coming into the fold.
The pitches and new floodlights are fantastic and it was a pleasure to be able to play on and under them to start the weekend off in style. As a club, we are very fortunate to have these amazing facilities and credit and thanks must go to the Project Group who made this a reality.
Over to the rest of the club to maintain the winning ways for the weekend - no pressure then!
Novos 31 Rockliff 21
Leonard 2 Tries
Douthwaite 2 Tries
Walker 3 conversions