Muddy Nuns upset high-flying Newport...
Muddy Nuns upset high-flying Newport...
Nuns 10 Newport 9.
With the Nuns on a four match winning run, and lying 6th in Midlands Premier, this was a must win game against 3rd placed Newport. Nuns have a remote chance of making the playoff game and an unbeaten run to the end of the season could see them make it.
The Nuns made changes from the side that beat Newbold. Callum Grant-Smith moved back to hooker with Ryan Leake moving to the bench. Apo Satala returned to play at No.8 and Huw Thomas started at scrum half with Tom Smitham on the bench. Adie Hall had returned to the club and was on the bench.
With the game switched to No.1 pitch and light rain falling, conditions underfoot were heavy, greasy and stamina sapping. It was the visitors who made the early running but the Nuns defended well. However poor clearance kicking allowed the dangerous Hendry Vaka to run the ball back at the Nuns. Again the Nuns tackled well. Nuns wasted an early opportunity with a forward pass as their backs tried to break out of their half. Moving the ball and going forward were difficult in the treacherous conditions. The Nuns pack had the advantage at the set scrum and regularly got a push on. On 21 minutes the Nuns were penalised in front of their posts and fullback Liam Holder didn’t miss. Nuns then wasted another opportunity - knocking on at a lineout with the try line in sight. Another forward pass stopped the Nuns when in a good attacking position. On 30 minutes after a strong scrum from the front five a penalty was kicked to the corner only for the homeside to lose the lineout and Newport relieve the pressure. Just before halftime Nuns were penalised for a high tackle and Holder added a further 3 points to give the visitors a 6 point interval lead.
Tackling was proving to be difficult in the wet conditions, with players slipping and sliding through the mud. The referee made no allowances for this and Scott Makepeace was harshly yellow carded for a tackle that slipped off his opponent and went high. Nuns were penalised at a maul and Holder added his third penalty. Newport then went through a period of retaining the ball. Phase after phase they kept the ball without threatening to score. With Makepeace back on the field the Nuns won a penalty and in the windless conditions Rory Vowles kicked the goal to put the Nuns on the scoreboard. This score seemed to lift the homeside and the small home crowd roared their encouragement. On 70 minutes they missed a golden opportunity. A penalty in an attacking position was kicked dead. With the clock ticking down Newport again retained the ball through several phases without threatening to score. The Nuns were becoming more desperate and they had a pass intercepted on half way but were able to snuff out the danger.
Once again the Nuns stormed down the field and won a penalty 15 metres from the tryline. They opted for a scrum and promptly drove the opposition into disarray and when the scrum collapsed over the line Tom Smitham was credited with the try that brought the Nuns to within one point at 8-9.( Nuns were unlucky that the referee didn’t award a penalty try). So the pressure was on the young shoulders of Rory Vowles with not the easiest of conversions. The hours of practice put in with his place kicking paid off as the ball sailed between the uprights. 5 minutes left and Newport needed the ball. Nuns fielded the kick off and immediately went to ground. With Newports backs screaming for their forwards to win the ball, the Nuns went through the phases of retaining it until the final whistle.
A classic game of old fashioned rugby played in atrocious conditions and a memorable win for the Nuns. It doesn’t get any easier as the Nuns face 4th placed Scunthorpe next week at Liberty Way.
Ben Holmes, Callum Grant-Smith, Jon Patemen, Matthew Gibbs, Scott Makepeace, Rudi Reid, Apo Satala, Todd Bullions,
Huw Thomas, Rory Vowles, Richard Johnston, Tim Douglas, Elliott Brown (capt), Jackson Hughes, Ben Kirby,
Ryan Leake, Adie Hall and Tom Smitham.
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