Novocastrians 25 - 29 Consett
Consett's first win under the new Howell's regime.
A jittery start for the away side following a kickoff that wasn't gathered allowing Novos to go through a couple of phases before an offside call in the midfield resulted in a penalty in front of the posts. The home side elected to kick and slotted the penalty (3-0). The lead didn't last too long as Consett hit back following an excellent chase from the kick off. Novos tried to build through some phases whilst a massive amount of pressure was put on them by the men in yellow. A handling error by the home side created a turnover. Advantage was played and used excellently by Stiann van der Merwe who through the dummy pass before cutting through the defensive line. With only 1 man to beat, an excellent side step saw Consett go under the sticks for the 1st time in the game. Tom Johnson converted successfully (3-7).
A lapse in concentration and a series of missed tackles by Consett enabled the Novos strong runners to get over the gain line. A well timed pass out wide by the home teams half-back targeted an unorganised scattered defence. Novos executed an accurate 2 on 1 before going over in the corner. The conversion was missed (8-7). Another well placed Novos restart dropping on the 10m line before a Consett hand knocked on. A long advantage was played as the home team again looked to create a few phases looking for weakness in the defensive line. An unfortunate accidental tip tackle followed by some handbags by both sets of players leading to Gareth Henderson being sin binned. The referee used some common sense and showed empathy understanding that the tackle was made with no malice and only gave a yellow card while the home fans screamed for red. Novos kicked upfield to take the line out which was spoiled by Jack Clark who put pressure on the jumper. A familiar site saw the home team set up 1 or 2 phases before the fly-half punted a cross field kick over towards the left wing. The winger was either extremely lucky or extremely skilful as he toe poked the ball on the volley before chasing through to dot down in the left corner. Conversion was successful (15-7)
For the 2nd time in the game Consett were behind and for the 2nd time in the game Consett reapplied pressure directly from the kick off with an excellent chase by Bradley Harris. Novos sensing danger attempted a wide looping pass which was intercepted by Stiaan van der Merwe who had an easy run in to score under the posts. The conversion by Tom Johnson was successful (15-14). With the wind back in the sails of Consett the 2 teams battled out in the middle of the pitch with neither team shying away. A knock on by the home team caused a stoppage which enabled yellow carded Henderson to return to the field. This stoppage also saw the 1st change of the game. Richard Grey made way for Bradley "Bear" Sotheran who was given the instruction to attack every breakdown and disrupt as much as possible as Consett were giving too much respect to the home team around the contact area. Scrum ensued and an excellent drive from Mark Sadler and the rest of the pack saw Novos pick and go from a scrum going backwards. A great defensive tackle allowed Sotheran to have an instant impact, leading the counter ruck followed in by Chris "Hightower' Gray. The turnover ball was whisked away wide allowing the Consett back line their 1st real possession of the ball. An intricate back line play saw the ball given out wide from Centre, Connor Gates to full back Haydn Petch who carried the ball before offloading to the hot stepper, Dan Patchcott. A jinky run saw him break the line before taking contact. The ball was moved towards a pod set up in the midfield, Gareth Henderson ran outside to in and took the ball with momentum. A high swinging arm rocked Henderson backwards and a penalty was awarded in the midfield.
Johnson kicked to touch for a line out just inside the oppositions 10m line. Consett opted for a full line out before an excellent catch and drive started inching forward. Like a powerful tug boat, the Consett pack with Captain John Rowbotham and Lewy McQueen barking orders, started to pick up speed. The tug boat became a battleship as it crossed the 22m while still speeding up. With the ball in the safe hands of Steven Walls, the maul eventually reached top speed and could only be stopped by infringing Novos players. The battleship was sunk only 5m out from the line. The referee looked to blow for a penalty try but the ball was spun into the midfield where the powerful James Wheeler crashed over the line for a try just before half time. Johnson again converted successfully (15-21).
The 2nd half was a lot tighter than the prior. Both teams not wanting to make any mistakes. Penalty kicks were exchanged taking the score to 18-24 heading into the final 20 minutes. Henderson couldn't fully recover from the earlier blow so Richard Grey returned to the field like a man possessed, tackling everything that moved. Novos not making any headway through the middle of the field started to feel the wrath of the aggressive travelling pack, they looked again to stretch the play wide. The Novos 8 stood out wide collected the ball with some space, but electing to run directly into James Wheeler who did not disappoint, a huge hit and a positive tackle sent the larger 8 backwards. Unfortunately Wheeler picked up an injury in the ruck that followed. Novos used the 1 man overlap well and ran in to score while James received treatment. Conversion was good (25-24).
It was decided that the South African couldn't play on, John Kelly entered the frame. The change saw Petch move to 13 and Kelly slide into the full back position with just over 5 minutes left to play. Consett chasing the game and pushing the pace against a Novos side that perhaps thought the game was won. Penalty given just inside the home teams half to the men from Derwentside, Captain John Rowbotham thought about going for the posts but decided to kick to the corner following Consett's earlier success with the line out. While players were saying "make sure", Van der Merwe trusted his kicking abilities and struck the ball deep into the corner 10m out from the home teams try line. Consett opted for the catch and drive, prop Lewy "Lightening" McQueen claims to have broken free from the maul stepping at least 5 players before scoring the 4th try. However from side line it looked more like 2m out with nobody in front of him but nevertheless it was the match winning, bonus point try. The conversion was missed. Full time score Novocastrians 24 - 29 Consett.
Safe to say it was one of the best performances from the Consett side this season, while still not hitting full potential. Some lackadaisical mistakes were made and will need to be ironed out if Consett want to challenge and compete with the top teams.....but the prospect of this Consett team operating at full potential, should and will worry every team in the league.