NATIONAL THREE SOUTH & WEST
BRIXHAM 27 – NEWTON ABBOT 31
Newton Abbot “All Whites” overturned an 18-3 deficit before clinching victory via a pushover try from No. 8 Brett Stroud
in the 78th minute of a cracking game, which was an absolute credit to both teams.
This was an eagerly anticipated derby clash that lived up to all expectations; the two sides have not been in the same League for a couple of seasons, but on this performance, Brixham’s elevation to National Three is well deserved and sustainable.
However, Newton’s two years of experience at this level was probably the difference. Both sides had quality, place kicking fly halves, Newton’s Rob Avery-Wright banged over sixteen points but home No. 10 Ben Lovell edged the duel with seventeen points with his boot.
The try count became the deciding factor, three to two in the visitors favour, but not for the first time this season Newton had to hit the comeback trail, only getting in front with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Brixham made the perfect start with a Lovell penalty in the first minute as Newton failed to cope with his kick off. The scores were level within 3 minutes, Avery-Wright punishing discretion at a ruck.
The home side surged into a good lead with a couple of tries in the space of five minutes. The first came from clean lineout ball, a well worked three-quarter move plus quick second-phase ball that saw captain Adam Thomas crash over from short range.
The second was a gift; the Newton threes made a hash of running midfield possession and paid the price with home winger Kyle Brown racing in from 30 metres.
Lovell converted the first, missed the second but then booted over a 22nd minute penalty from 40 metres for the 18-3 lead.
Avery-Wright stemmed the tide with his second penalty and Newton went on to dominate the spell up to half time. Forward pressure eventually told – but not before Brixham’s defence had been severely tested – a penalty kick opportunity was turned down in favour of more forward drives that eventually had hooker Dean Avery
over the line. Avery-Wright converted to leave the “All Whites” only 18-13 adrift with second use of the slope to come.
Newton started the second half with a bang; a penalty – made 10 metres easier through back-chat – by Avery-Wright reduced the gap further.
He attempted a long-range effort – a kick to the corner might have been the better option – which missed, the next score came from Lovell, which re-established his side’s five point margin.
Brixham always looked dangerous when flanker Jarryd Harris had the ball and it was one of his surging runs deep into Newton territory that set up another penalty for Lovell and had Avery in the bin.
The “All Whites” shrugged off the handicap of temporarily being one man short and levelled the scores before Avery’s return.
Avery-Wright kicked a penalty before his side scored their second try. Scrum half Matt Newman
got behind the defensive line to put young winger Josh Smith
in for at the corner.
The scores were level for 8 minutes, Lovell breaking the deadlock with yet another penalty..
Newton returned to the attack and camped on the Fisherman’s line until they scored. A succession of scrums and penalties tried the patience of the referee who binned Thomas.
From the ensuing 5-metre scrum, Newton used their advantage to good effect enabling Stroud to touchdown and Avery-Wright to convert.
Brixham still had time to snatch victory, especially when Matt Templeman
joined his opposite number in the bin. The home side failed with a 5-metre lineout having kicked a penalty to the corner leaving Newton to clear their lines and survive to claim a memorable victory from a pulsating match.
It was anticipated that a win for Newton would move then up to third in the League, however Weston-Super-Mare retained that place by inflicting a first defeat on previous leaders London Irish Wild Geese.
Exmouth, who assumed top spot with a 67-12 home win over Maidenhead, are at Rackerhayes tomorrow (kick-off 2.30pm) looking to avenge their only loss, a 19-15 reversal back in early September.