Novos travelled to Ponteland optimistic that this would be the weekend results turned around after 80 minutes of pretty attritional rugby Novos were denied any points in a game they could have and should have won.
Novos young side had trained well on Thursday and are beginning to show signs that after a tough run of results and a lengthy injury list that there is still hope of fighting their way off the bottom of the league. If it is to happen then we will have to find a way of picking up some points quickly if we are to have any hope of catching the teams above. Ponteland always aggressive and hard to break down were also fired up following a set of results that had saw them dropping to into a dangerous position, this was too early to be a relegation 10 pointer but clearly their was plenty to gain for both sides.
The game kicked off and Ponteland made their intentions clear – opting for a forward orientated game with close drives and mauling play which Novos dealt with fairly easily and Ponteland failed to make much ground. Novos when in possession, looked dangerous and nothing like a side bottom of the league as they dominated early territory and possession. Ponteland’s defence was well organised and strong but they were certainly vulnerable out wide with Jamie Diggle looking very dangerous just failing to score by last ditch tackles on three occasions in the first half.
On 25 minutes, a Diggle break looked like it might open the scores before a horrendous clothesline tackle around the neck from the Ponteland centre halted his progress. The reaction of the Pont player was a bit disappointing, jumping to his feet and celebrating his big ‘hit’ He rightly saw yellow and was lucky it wasn’t a red. Thankfully Jamie wasn’t hurt and was back on his feet quickly. Novos pressed and inexplicably opted to run a penalty that was easily kickable and they failed to score the try, allowing Pont to clear their lines, worse was to follow when from the lineout Mark Cooper
was yellow carded after reacting to his opposite number dump tackling him off the ball, Mark said it was a push, the ref after the game said it was a punch (fair enough). From the penalty Pont created space and scored in the corner to make it 5 – 0, which is how it stayed until half time.
Both sides were returned to a full compliment for the second half and Novos continued to pressure, Will Trick and Diggle going close, however too often Novos were spreading the ball wide without committing Ponts forwards so there was precious little space to exploit and Pont were defending well. Also as Novos began to panic, the old ‘miss-pass bug’ returned and countless overlaps were wasted by missing out players to push it wide which is easy to defend. To make matters worse Pont added 3 points on a rare excursion into Novos 22 via a penalty. At 8 – 0 Novos needed to score next and again pressured playing good rugby but were guilty of trying to force the game which played into Ponteland’s hands.
With around 10 minutes remaining, Novos defended a ruck and Jamie Wallace
found himself caught on the wrong side, Pont would probably have got the penalty until one of their players decided to take matters into his own hands weighing a kick a Jamie’s head for which he was quite rightly red carded. It puzzles me why Pont were aggrieved, yes we were infringing but you just can’t go around kicking people in the head!! Not learning any lessons Ponts prop (Who seemed the most upset by the card) repeated the trick 2 minutes later, this time using his knee, the ref only deemed this a penalty, perhaps trying to calm the situation as another card whatever the colour may have inflamed an already ‘aggressive’ atmosphere. This is not a pop at the referee who ultimately had a very decent game, but thankfully no one was more seriously hurt in these incidents but kicking or kneeing someone in the back of the head while they are trapped in a ruck is not only cowardly, its dangerous and the action for deliberately attempting to injure a player should be met with the severest penalty even if that is another card 2 minutes after the first.
The game petered away from there, Dan Bollado almost getting over for a try and Shaun Stewart
missing with a last gasp penalty to at least get a losing bonus point in a game where Novos deserved so much more.
A disappointing result but there were positives – Most of this side were in their early twenties, some still teenagers and they stood up to an aggressive and at times plain nasty Ponteland pack admirably. With cooler heads, we would have scored tries this is something that can be corrected on the training field and Novos discipline in the face of some provocation was near exemplary. There are players to return to the squad soon, notably influential Skipper Andy Borthwick
and prop Gavin Evans
will add some bulk to the pack in the coming weeks and the rest of our walking wounded should be back in the mix soon.
Next week the squad face another tough test as they take on a Guisbrough side who will be buzzing following their excellent win over Hartlepool Rovers, Novos are capable we just need to start having more belief, there will be no easy games but it will be remarkable what two wins will do to how the league looks.