After the heady heights of last week’s victory, this was always going to be a reality check for Newbury. Redingensians, Bournemouth and Chinnor are a class apart from all other teams in this league and all three have consistently put big scores past the other teams.
With three changes in the front five (Ellisson and Taylor injured, Tony FLYNN
unavailable through family illness) and no sign of the 6 other injured front row players returning, young Alex MILLAR
came in for a baptism of fire at loose-head whilst Eddie CLEAL
stepped up to make his first start at hooker.
Some glorious rugby from this clearly talented Redingensians team saw the scoreboard clocking up at a point a minute, with tries from Hopkins, Stapley (twice) and Marsh. 26 nil with 26 minutes gone and we feared a rout.
But these boys are made of strong stuff and the next 15 minutes were theirs. Individual flashes of brilliance by Tom MARTIN
, Dan THORNE
, Eddie CLEAL
and Alex MILLAR
gave the travelling support plenty to cheer. Then on the stroke of half-time, Joe WOOD
broke down the left and William Spencer looked set to score. He was tackled high and cynically early – a yellow card on another day, but probably not the penalty try the Newbury President was appealing for! As it was all Newbury got was a penalty and they failed to capitalise on it.
A lack of concentration at the start of the second period gave Swadling a try to add to his excellent haul of 5 conversions for the match. Newbury dug deep, and Alex MILLAR
came close to a score. An injury to Isaac NICHOLLS
followed the earlier one to Jaco MEYER
, and left Newbury with the unfamiliar centre pairing of William Spencer and Matt MAHER
. Full credit to these two – they each looked very capable both in defence and attack.
Redingensians inexorably drew away – tries by Root, Marsh and Odejobi took it to 50-0 with quarter of an hour still to go. This scoreline accurately reflected some good running, and the Rams back row surely covered every single inch of this pitch. Thoughts of a cricket score were still there, but this Newbury team don’t ever lie down and die.
Newbury pressed on looking for a score of their own. Spencer looked set to get it in the right hand corner before a desperate Rams defender scragged him by the collar. A dangerous tackle for sure and it earned the defender a yellow card, but it also stopped the try. Immediately Newbury were attacking again and Alex MILLAR
(again) then Matt MAHER
got close to the line. Millar, Maher and Eddie CLEAL
pressured again and earned Newbury a penalty. They swung the ball wide left where Sean CHAMUNORWA
unselfishly released Paul JONES
to score in the corner. Dan THORNE
’s conversion attempt missed by a foot.
Buoyed by their well-deserved score, Newbury took their foot off the gas and allowed Redingensians to have the final word with a nicely worked hat-trick try for Stapley. So 55 – 5 it was and we would probably have settled for that before the start and definitely after 26 minutes. Newbury had taken their medicine and now all thoughts turn to the Berkshire Cup game on Tuesday, at home against Reading Abbey, then the home game against BOTTOM CLUB Bridgwater (how nice to be saying that about someone else) on March 24th.
Man of the match Alex MILLAR
coped admirably in the scrum against a very strong front row, and was prominent in the loose – indeed he could have scored on 3 occasions.
Newbury: Hawkins, Cleal, Millar; Stronge (Trott 71), Price; Frost, Jones, Vine; Czerpack, D.Thorne; Martin, Nicholls (Mayer 51), Meyer (W.Spencer 10), Chamunorwa; Wood
Redingensians: Swadling; Duffelen (Flynn 68), Aaron Hopkins, Odejobe, Marsh; Brown, W Clark; Rowland, M Clarke (Rumble 58), Baker, Root, Turner, Amor, Azza Hopkins (C Stapley 41), R Stapley.