OLD NORTHAMPTONIANS 14-24 BROADSTREET
Relegation looms large for the ONs after this latest defeat.They had led 14-12 after a bright opening to the second half but for the umpteenth time this season they conceded an unnecessary penalty and yellow card and within minutes the opposition had overturned the advantage.
A dearth of available/uninjured front row players meant that coach Mark Kefford
made his first full appearance for the ONs,indeed his first full game for at least five years and faced by a pack with a massive weight advantage,the home side were constantly in rapid retreat at scrum time.The lineout also performed fitfully as further changes to the pack including the late call up of Shea Brown
,normally a centre,to play in the back row also disrupted preparation.
Broadstreet kicked off playing down the Billing Road slope and with the advantage of the diagonal wind at their backs.A downpour just before the start had made conditions greasy and with the rain continuing until half time both sides found handling difficult,as did the respective kickers with their footing,several penalty chances being missed.After two failed attempts at goal Street put their next kick into touch close to the ONs line and they looked certain to score,only for a second penalty to be reversed allowing the ONs some respite.The relief was however short lived and from a 5 metre scrum no 8 Stewart Hendry completed a pushover try and the visitors should have increased their lead minutes later when they once again steamrollered the ONs pack backwards but knocked on with the line at their mercy.The pressure on the ONs continued and as the interval approached another series of drives,with the ball being retained through at least 15 phases,was well defended and eventually possession was turned over for Charlie Barker to put in a long clearance kick.
Both the conditions and the ONs improved as the second half began and they regained the kick off before moving the ball quickly wide and Barker was almost through.A rare scrum was then secured,Kieran O’Connor made the break and Barker was on hand to go over under the posts,presenting Alex Rose
with the simple conversion.For the first time in the match the ONs were now on top,at least temporarily,a series of penalties moving them deep into opposition territory and when Broadstreet once again infringed,the normally reliable Rose missed the kick.With the siege lifted the visitors attacked with a perfectly constructed driving maul,marching the ONs back fully 30 metres before it was illegally stopped,giving the referee no option but to award a penalty try which with Dan Richards conversion took Street to a 12-7 lead.Again the ONs won the restart and a penalty but Rose was again off target although from the 22 drop out the ONs attacked down the left before play was switched and Rose’s pin point cross field kick to the right was collected by Richard Blank
who raced over and Rose added the conversion.At the other end another simple kick was pushed wide but this was “poetic justice”as seconds before James Hayden
had been felled by a high tackle which went unseen by the referee and for the next 10 minutes the ONs were again forced to defend their narrow 14-12 advantage as Broadstreet again dominated.Just when it appeared that the ONs had survived the onslaught,O’Connor fractionally mistimed his tackle as he chased a clearance kick and was penalised and yellow carded for taking the player out in the air.Within a minute Chris Zutic had scored from close range and with the final play of the game Todd Freemantle went over for Street’s fourth and bonus point try,so denying the ONs their losing point and with Richards converting,the Coventry side had eased their own worries and condemned the ONs to almost certain relegation.
ONs:Charlie Barker,Richard Blank
,Kieran O’Connor,Matt Love
,Ross Kevan,James Hayden
78mins)Dan Falvey,Shea Brown
,Rhys Hughes,Mark Kefford
(James Phillips 62mins)Jordan Brew