Out-Muscled in a Physical Battle
By Mark Denison
A direct and physical Newbold came away with all the points at Stourton Park
This was always going to be a tough match against 2nd in the league Newbold, who are used to playing their rugby in what was classed as the lowest National League before this season. They seem very determined to regain their former status, whatever the cost.
From a distance, the Newbold team looked around 20% bigger man-for-man than the Lions team, and the fly half could have played for Stour in the 2nd row! Their direct play and physical nature put them in control of the game very early on, scoring after only 7 minutes, winning the ball against the head in a scrum on the halfway. The Lions defence rallied and it took another 13 minutes for the visitors score another converted try, followed by another 5 minutes later.
The Lions then started to use their agility and skills to take the game to Newbold. They controlled a period of 10 minutes of the game, camped out in the visitor's half, with wave-upon-wave of attacks falling short of the line thanks to a determined defence. Towards the end of this period of dominance, Fred Brookes, playing at No. 8 on this occasion, carried the ball straight at the Newbold line, breaking through only to be taken down by a dangerously high tackle in front of both the posts and the Ref. Fred managed to get the ball back and it was recycled out to Josh Brierley who was stopped short of the corner by yet another high tackle. No penalty given so the visitors were awarded the line out and promptly went down the other end to score again.
With only a couple of minutes left, the Lions rallied yet again, breaking through the defensive line and Darrell Aldridge made it to the 5 metre line before he was brought down. A brilliant offload to Josh Brierley saw the winger crash over the line for a well-deserved try with an easy conversion for Tom Mitchell. Half-Time 7-28.
Newbold were starved of ball for 20 minutes in the second half and when they did have it, they seemed to have run out of steam. However, they still managed a further 14 points before the end as injury forced substitutions and the Lions players had to shuffle into unfamiliar positions.
The Lions should take great heart from this performance, despite the score. To a man, they didn't give up until the final whistle blew.
Match Report by Mark Denison, pics by Sian Davies