With Northern due to arrive on the 7th September the math was simple - rest 25 first team squad members and then pick the next best 20. However, of this number an incredible 14 lads have had exposure to first team rugby at some stage. Bodes well for the club as a whole, providing players play every week as there is potential for some incredible competition for places.
Gateshead arrived with a mix of youth and experience as the first team had taken a large squad away to their pre season fixture with Richmondshire. Full credit to them for getting a side out after rumours of recent player loss is on the local rugby forum.
The first half was incredibly competitive as both sides were knocked back by physical tackling around the fringes and neither side dominated. We finally broke their determined defensive line a few times with a number of breaks and off loads by Ben Merrett. One such pass was gathered by Alex Cleminson for him to sprint in untouched. Conversion added by Stephen Wood to make it 7-0.
Dylan Murphy had been moved up to the two's on the back of committed training and a strong performance for the 4's last week. He scored his first try for his new club streaking down the side line to create a great memory, 12-0.
Gateshead were still determined to get into the game and the scored a fine try after a great line from their experienced centre (recalling some great coaching he must've received many moons ago!) to close the gap to 12-7.
We scored just before the end of the half as Isaac Robinson went in after he had caused problems throughout the first half. Conversion added by Wood again to make it 17-7 at half time.
Half game rule applied as everyone got a good run out - we chatted about the possibility that we were the fitter group as it appeared we probably attend more training sessions than our opponents as we appeared to have more cohesion and legs.
As Gateshead tired we ran in eight tries via Ben Merrett, Rich Harrison, James Bass (3) Mark Stewart (2) and Chris Ward.
Full credit to the Gateshead lads who never gave in but I did feel that our group had the greater number of players exposed to first team rugby. With a few lads coming down from the first team squad I am sure you will improve throughout the season. Given recent departures you all have a great opportunity to get to training and gain selection for your first team. I have learnt that support from your second team is vital to maintain your standing in what is a difficult Durham and Northumberland 1 league.
Thank you to Brian for reffing the match - no major injuries (a rolled ankle for Gateshead perhaps) and some pre season mins in your legs.
Novos - environment was very positive apart from all the appealing. Cricket season is coming to a close so hopefully this will soon see that pattern stop. Was great to see Greg Humphreyson and Rich Harrison back in a Novos shirt after some time away. In addition, I thought Ben Merrett was back to his old self and Issac Robinson looks more motivated to do well than I have seen him in the past. Some real competition being provided by this group which will be needed to push the ones higher in their league. Thank you to Ben Kelly for captaining and those boys who steeped up a team or two to play - John Watson and Gareth Davies for example.
Up the Vos !