Novocastrians 3rd XV have the opportunity to bring home the first Senior silverware of the season when they play Blyth 2nd XV in the Northumberland County No. 4 Plate Final on Saturday. Kick-off is 2pm at Whitley Bay Rockcliff RFC.
Team Manager Andy Croft was blessed with good availability, and has been able to pick a strong match day squad. Selection was tough, with some good players very unlucky to miss out. The final squad includes 11 of the 21 that played in the 0-40 Semi Final win away at West End earlier this month, with several players not available due to injury or unavailability.
The front row contains experienced clubman Gus Graham (owner of an illustrious 100 Novocastrians 1st XV appearances tie), Ant McQuillan and John Watson. The blend of experience, youth and bulk will be an important combination in both the loose and tight on Saturday. Senior Colt Jack Shanahan earns the No. 4 shirt after an excellent debut season of senior rugby. He packs down alongside the formidable frame of Kit Sørensen to complete a bulky second row. The back row contains three lads who are all new to Novos this season; a tribute to the success of the Development Team. Towie’s Charlie Willis and Newcastle University student Gus Nye occupy the flanks, whilst former Raven Jeff Burke will pack down at 8 to complete the forwards.
Against West End, 5 of our 6 tries were scored by the backs. One of those try-scorers was Justin Taylor, whose performances this season has earned him the starting 9 shirt on Saturday. The Ulsterman will look to control the flow of play and set the pace on Rockcliff’s AGP. Jack Pellew will once again captain the side from the Fly Half berth. What he lacks in raw pace, he more than makes up for in the bar. He will look to unlock the speedy centre partnership of Newcastle University students Jonny Winterhalder and Luke Foster. The back three of Sean Isherwood, Thomas John and Isaac Robinson will look to utilise their pace on the new plastic pitch.
Croft was able to name a strong bench containing veterans and club stalwarts Alan Pitchford and Rich Zabrocki, alongside Andrew McKenna, Ryan Crowson, Stephen Wood and Pete Jones. These impact players may be just the difference in a close game.
It’s great to have injured second team player Ben Kelly along as Club Photographer for the day, and Chris Brown (who narrowly missed out on selection for the squad) is coming along to support the lads as H2O administrator and kicking tee distributor. There will be the traditional squad photograph at 12pm at Novos (everyone please be in white shirt, Novos tie, chinos and shoes) before we head down to Rockcliff for the match. Any travelling support would be very welcome, as the squad looks to start the Cup Final season off with a bang.
#UpTheVos #FortiterDefenditTriumphans #YouCanStillChopAPintOutOfAPlate