Win at Newton Abbot sees Reds promoted
Old Redcliffians traveled to Devon knowing that two points would be enough to see the side crowned champions and with it promotion to National League Two South for next season, and they came away with the maximum five points in a thoroughly entertaining g
On a sunny and warm but blustery afternoon, the players ran on to the pitch with a guard of honour provided by Reds minis and juniors who were on tour, and it was the visitors who played into the wind for the first forty minutes; having been forced to ring the changes with the withdrawal of Josh Mortimore and Aaron Rice on match day. After the initial plays with each side looking to establish themselves it became clear that Reds backs would benefit from quick ball with the home sides front five having the edge in the tight. Early signs were good for Reds and they went on the attack left; good handling saw the ball worked up the line, a penalty ensued and was kicked to the home sides corner, Reds won the line out and drove forward, with Scott Parsons about to score the referee saw an infringement and awarded a penalty try, Ashley Groves playing at scrum half landing the regulation conversion. Once Reds regained possession again the back three worked well, an excellent break from full back Henry Bird and slick handling lead to an excellent try in the corner for James Clements, who finished well to extend the lead to 12 points with as many minutes played.
Newton Abbot responded landing a long range penalty from outside half Ollie Avery-Wright, aided by the wind following a deliberate knock-on, to make it 12-3 after the first quarter. The home side threatened and a good tap tackle from Groves snuffed out an excellent opportunity. Redcliffians looked to run at every opportunity and prop Alex Harvey carried well. Good inter-passing with both forwards and backs involved gained good ground; a quick tap penalty forced the hosts back and when they were penalised again, not ten metres back; Reds kicked to the corner once more. This time hooker Parsons was not the denied, touching down from a well-executed front peel to extend the lead to fourteen points.
When Reds were penalised at a scrum midfield Avery-Wright landed another good penalty to reduce the gap. Buoyed by the three points their forwards began to come into the game winning some great second phase and good handling saw centre Callum Gill step through some weak defence to score under the posts, Avery-Wright converting and they were right back in it at 17 points to 13. Redcliffians continued to look to attack at every opportunity, a great run from Ezra Caven swept them up the pitch, passes from Jed Hooper and Alex Harvey found Dan Fry at pace and he touched down for another well worked score; Groves converted again and it was 24-13 to the visitors. Just before the half time break the home side lost second row Ian Milton to a yellow card, after numerous warnings, but they still reduced the lead as Avery-Wright landed a third penalty, for Reds being guilty of crossing while on the attack, to make it Old Redcliffians 24 Newton Abbot 16 at the break after a first half in which Reds had the upper hand.
After the break and a fruitless first few minutes Reds extended their lead; after a period of pressure the visitors closed in on the try line. They drove the ball at the home defence close to the breakdown and were awarded a scrum, with Craig McGrath bolstering the front row they pushed the home pack towards the try line; an obvious infringement saw referee Ben Russell award a second penalty try, Groves again adding the straightforward conversion to make it 31-16. If Redcliffians thought the game was won they were mistaken, Newton Abbot strung together dome good plays, following neat interplay the ball found its way out wide to hooker Matt Dowrick and he scored from distance with an excellent turn of pace, another successful Avery-Wright kick making it 31-23 and all to play for. The home side sensed the game was there for the taking, and made it two tries in quick succession as their dangerous winger Jack Bond showed strength and skill to finish of another good passage of play. Avery-Wright adding the extras and Reds now only led by a point 31-30.
Reds regrouped and knew the importance of the next few minutes of play; they showed more control and worked their way up field once more. They worked the ball from side to side and created an opening only for a knock on to prevent a certain score. The ball was regained from a home clearance and carried back in attack, after tying in the defence at the breakdown centre field a well-timed pass from Oli Rayner found centre Christian Gervais who crossed close to the right of posts for another five points, Groves converting to extend the lead to 38-30. From the restart the Bristol side moved forward again and pressed up the middle of the pitch. At the next breakdown Newton Abbot offended and Reds won another penalty. This time sense prevailed and they called up Groves; his long range kick was on target; the three points pushed Reds 41-30 in front, crucially two scores to the good with time running out.
Neat hands and a delicate chip gave winger Ezra Caven a half chance but he was well tackled close to the try line. With the final play of the game Newton Abbot threw everything into attack and were rewarded with another score, Ian Milton rounding of a move that saw great interplay between backs and forwards, Avery-Wright landed his seventh successful kick of the day to make the final score Newton Abbot 37 Old Redcliffians 41 and Reds celebrated another victory and promotion to National League Two South. The club would like to thank Newton Abbot for their tremendous hospitality both before and after a great afternoon of rugby and wish them well for the remaining fixtures this season.
Newton Abbot: Tries – Callum Gill, Matt Dowrick, Jack Bond, Ian Milton. Conversions - Ollie Avery-Wright 4. Penalties: Ollie Avery-Wright 3.
Old Redcliffians: Tries – Penalty Try 2, James Clements, Scott Parsons, Dan Fry, Christian Gervais. Conversions – Ashley Groves 4, Penalty – Ashley Groves