Sheffield RUFC 24 - 3 Nuneaton RUFC
Sheffield battle hard in the first half to keep Nuneaton off of the score sheet, before taking control for a bonus point win...
Sheffield RUFC 24 - 3 Nuneaton RUFC
Team Selection for Saturday, 3rd November 2018
15 Laulu Topagae
14 Rupert Broadley
13 Lewis Bowman
12 Rob Conville
11 Ali Womack
10 Matt Law
9 Steve Depledge
1 Ben Whitney
2 Ianto Jones
3 Dan Rylance
4 Dave Clayden
5 Joe Cooke
6 Jason Hignell
7 Angus Hughes
8 Sean Casey
16 Zak Smith
17 Tommy Womack
18 Will Hodgson
Sheffield looked to maintain their home form with the visit of Nuneaton, who arrived at Abbeydale having lost their last two matches against Sandbach away (46 - 41) and last week, at home to league leaders Scunthorpe (17 - 24). Sheffield saw the return of full back Laulu Togaga'e and prop forward Dan Rylance. In the absence of second row Jack Hawley, prop forward Joe Cooke moved to lock and Jason Hignell moved up from the bench to replace Charlie Mason in the back row. The bench was then made up with returning back rows Tommy Womack and Zak Smith and utility back Will Hodgson. Rob Conville also moved up from the bench to play at inside centre in place of James Flint. Also unavailable were Dom Parsons, Andy Hodgson and Jonny France.
Sheffield, playing with the benefit of a strong wind behind them, started brightly and were awarded a penalty with barely a minute gone. Unfortunately, Steve Depledge’s kick was off target. Two minutes later following a break by Laulu Togaga'e, Ali Womack and Lewis Bowman took Sheffield from inside their 22-metre to beyond Nuneaton’s 10 metre, but some desperate defence forced a knock-on from Sheffield and the opportunity was lost. Neither team seemed capable of breaking free of the relative defences. Sheffield had a second kickable penalty after 15 minutes, but once again Steve Depledge couldn’t get the home team on the score sheet. However, as time ran on Sheffield's pack began to exert pressure and from a good position close to the Nuneaton line Sheffield drove for the whitewash, but the ball seemed to escape from the grasp and again a good opportunity slipped away.
It wasn't long though, before reward came their way. After 22 minutes, backrow forward Jason Hignell went over on the right. Again, Steve Depledge couldn’t add the kick but Sheffield led by 5 points to nil. Shortly afterwards, Sheffield were to lose openside flanker Angus Hughes to a head injury, he was replaced by Zak Smith, back in the squad after injury for the first time since the 29th September. The game could easily have taken a different turn with 32 minutes gone, Nuneaton’s centre and captain Elliott Brown breezed through the Sheffield defence, but was hauled down when it looked certain he would score and the ball was lost to give Sheffield a scrum inside their 22-metre. Sheffield cleared and no further opportunities came the way of either team before half time.
Sheffield, now playing into the wind, knew they would not be able to kick their way up the park and so much more carrying of the ball, particularly by the pack would be required. Sheffield's graft took them deep into the Nuneaton 22-metre and a series of penalties close to the 5-metre gave Sheffield possession and territory. Sheffield were dominating the scrums and elected to keep taking this option at each penalty, they were duly rewarded when Number 8 Sean Casey went over on the right. Steve Depledge’s radar was still not fully functioning and the kick was off target again, but Sheffield led by 10 points to nil after 47 minutes. Nuneaton recorded their first points after 55 minutes when Sheffield were caught off side and fly half Ben Cooper converted from close to the touch line, to reduce the deficit to 10 points to 3.
As the game went into the final quarter, Sheffield lost Rupert Broadley to injury and he was replaced by Ali Womack, who had not long previously been replaced by Will Hodgson. Nuneaton had raised their game and were pressing hard around Sheffield’s 22-metre, but an indiscretion by a Nuneaton forward, leading with his elbow in the tackle, ensured it all came to nothing. Nuneaton then created again and looked certain to break clear as the 70th minute arrived, but a forward pass stopped what had been a very promising move. Sheffield took control again and were soon back up in Nuneaton’s 22-metre and when a loose pass from the base of a 5-metre defensive scrum went astray, Nuneaton were forced to touch down and give Sheffield an attacking scrum. The scrum broke up, but Sheffield retained possession and prop forward Dan Rylance scored Sheffield’s third try, wide out on the right. Steve Depledge got his radar working and kicked a very difficult conversion to move the lead out to 17 points to 3 after 74 minutes. The final major event came with time effectively over, when Sheffield broke from a scrum on their own 10-metre line and with the several players involved, made it all the way to the Nuneaton try line. The ball carrier was hauled down a metre short, but had the presence of mind to pop the ball up for the on-rushing Rob Conville to score adjacent to the posts. Steve Depledge added the conversion and referee Sarah Toll blew for time, with Sheffield recording their fifth home win by 24 points to 3, with a vital 4 try bonus point, to move them back up to 6th place in the league.
The League action makes way for a home Yorkshire Cup tie with Hull this weekend, then the 17th November sees the boys on the road, away at Sandbach.
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