The strength in depth at the club is evident as, although deprived of five first team regulars, Newent moved to the top of the Premiership with this comfortable victory against a willing but ultimately outclassed Gordon League outfit.
It took only 5 minutes for the visitors to get on the scoreboard when powerful scrummaging from their pack created the platform for No 8 John Duffin to control the ball at the back before releasing scrum half James Dean, who had too much pace and power for the cover defence, to score out wide. Ross Webb kicked a difficult conversion and Newent were on their way with a 7 – 0 lead.
The visitors continued to dominate the early exchanges but unforced errors invariably let them down when try scoring opportunities presented themselves. Eventually Webb made an incisive break through the middle which was carried on by Charlie Gellert who put Dan Bubb-Sacklyn away on the left. The winger had it all to do but showing electrifying speed and employing a powerful handoff, he forced his way over in the corner for Newent to increase their lead to 12 – 0 after 10 minutes play.
The young Gordon League side tried their utmost to get back into the game but they struggled to make any impression on their opponent’s well organised and physical defence. On the other hand, Newent looked dangerous whenever they had the ball and their strike runners continued to wreak havoc in the opposition ranks. It looked inevitable that Newent would score again and on the 20 minute mark, the influential Dean set off on a trademark jinking run from the half way that took him to the opposition 22 where he offloaded to arch predator George Phelps in support, who crashed over near the posts. Webb added the deserts to give the visitors a 19 – 0 advantage with more seemingly on the cards.
Sure enough,the bonus point try came after half an hour when Gellert made a clean break to get behind the League defence before shipping on to burly flanker Lee Warren who made a powerful burst to go over in the corner. Webb was accurate again with the conversion and Newent looked well in command as they lead 26 – 0 at the interval.
HT: Gordon League 0 Newent 26.
The visitors continued the relentless onslaught after the break and set up camp in the opposition 22, where their forwards battered away at the try line, only to be denied by a brave defence. Eventually they were awarded a scrum under the posts and the Newent eight, not for the first time this season, demonstrated great strength and superb technical expertise to heave the opposition back behind their own line which allowed Duffin to drop on the ball and score. Webb added the regulation conversion and Newent were cruising at 33 – 0.
At this stage coach Addis had deployed all his bench players and developing youngsters Meek, Smith and Freeman all stepped up to the plate and did not look out of place at this level, which bodes well for the future.
The League were struggling to cope with the intensity, purpose and range of skill sets that saw the visitors get in behind the defence time after time. However, frustrating errors, coupled with some plucky defending from the home side, denied Newent a further score until 70 minutes had elapsed, by which time the hosts were out on their feet.
The Newent forwards went through the phases inside the opposition 22 before Barney Goatley, who had moved into the scrum half berth at this point, saw an opportunity and crashed over from close range. Webb, whose place kicking was immaculate, added the conversion and Newent had moved on to 40 points.
Arguably, the best try of the match was saved for last when, just minutes before the final whistle, Bubb-Sacklyn fielded a huge relieving kick just inside his own half. The winger was intent on taking route one and set off down the touchline with intent. Side stepping through heavy traffic and handing off would be tacklers, the winger amazingly crashed over in the corner, carrying several defenders with him for a great individual score. Webb kicked his 6th conversion out of 7 to give Newent an emphatic victory.
It is difficult to find fault with such a wide margin of victory but this was by no means a vintage performance from the men in green. There is no doubt that the finishing could have been more clinical, particularly playing down the slope in the second half and it was obvious from the touchline that tries went begging because players hung on to the ball instead of moving the pill out wide where, on occasions, there were glaring overlaps.
There were many positives but perhaps the most significant was that the players who stepped into the boots of the missing regulars had fine games. No doubt this demonstrates that having a 2nd XV playing good quality, competitive league rugby does indeed develop players, so that they are able to step up to the mark when needed in the 1st XV and indeed, challenge for regular places in the not too distant future.
Final score: Gordon League 0 Newent 47
Newent: Morris, Williams, Steward, Veale (capt), Marriott, Warren, Phelps, Duffin, Dean, Fletcher, Bubb-Sacklyn, Webb, Gellert, Goatley, Merrett, Meek, Smith, Freeman.
Reporter: The General