Novos II 28 – Wanderers 35. Match report by Huw Reynolds.
Some great novels apparently start with the ending, so with this literary genre in mind ………
….. The brave call was to the end of the lineout, Moore’s throw was pin-point accurate, Haley soared, caught and off-loaded in one seamless movement, Waugh bulleted the backs into motion, Hood stampeded, forwards sniped, and sniped again, red ball called, backs in motion, another ruck, more quick ball and ……. (**)
Costa Del Four Lane Ends hosted this rearranged fixture, where shorts, bikinis and moulded flip-flops were the preferred attire. Northern warmed up poorly, but some stern words before the kick-off provided the metaphorical kick up the backside that resulted in a dominant first 15 minutes, with the forwards, bolstered by debutant and all-round big lad Michael Henderson, and back for mum’s cooking and washing weekenders Kieran Laws and Nick White, dominating proceedings. Ryan Moore, excellent throughout, delivered accurate throwing, from which the pack mauled its way forwards. Clearly with the upper hand, the pack drove through a number of rucked phases, before White stretched over from three and three-quarter inches, on 2 minutes. 4 minutes later, Moore scored from a similar pattern of events but from half an inch further out. There was a clear lapse of concentration at this juncture, with minds wandering to wine, women and sangria, and Novos took advantage with gusto and scored 2 excellent converted tries to level the score. With a minute remaining on the clock, Wanderers regained the lead after some excellent work by backs and forwards alike, resulting in a try for Robbie Micheson out wide. Now was the time to secure the re-start and boot it well into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. We did the first bit (regained possession) but some inexperience saw us kick in-field from which their talented and very jinky winger counter-attacked and after a couple of rucks Novos went over under the posts. 21 – 21 at HT.
Now, one for the statistician. In a quirk of local tradition, no conversions are allowed on Novos pitch 2 (far end) due to the escalating cost of replacing expensive rugby balls that end up in the job seeker allowance queue at the Ministry. All tries are deemed to have been converted. So, is Moore (our designated kicker for the day) accredited with 3 conversions or does A N Other benefit?
The second half started like the first, when on 43 minutes, James Bullman arced his way through the defence to score. Moore was given the novel opportunity to convert on this occasion and he duly obliged. This was now turning into a full-on, ding-dong battle, and back came Novos to score another converted try on 51 minutes. They were now in the ascendancy and a harsh yellow for Kieran Laws meant that in was all hands to the defensive pump. Fortunately, given the heat and the fast pace, Northern had plenty of subs, and the defence remained stout. Novos came close on several occasions but were repelled time and time again. If it had remained at 28 – 28, it would have been a fair result, but how often is sport fair, and in stoppage time, …..
(**) ……there was Bullman, pumped full of age-defying serum, ghosting Barry John like, untouched by human hand, to score in the corner on the 80th minute. Moore, adrenalin fuelled, nailed the conversion from the touchline.
Tries: White, Moore, Micheson, Bullman (2)
Conversions: Ryan Moore (2 or 5 – take your pick)
Wanderers lost 16 – 23 to Corbridge Centurions (County Plate Final).Match report by Huw Reynolds:
Northern travelled with high expectations to the sun kissed neutral venue of Ponteland for the County Plate Final. They met a Corbridge side that had pulled out of the Candy league early in the season due to player shortage, but although their squad numbered only 16 on Saturday, it was a strong one and fielded players who had played at a much higher level. Wanderers also fielded a strong squad full of youth, which bodes well, but also splattered with experience. As you might expect therefore, the teams were well matched and the result could have gone either way.
Centurions started the stronger and for the first 10 minutes pressurised. They came close more than once, but our defence was excellent, with good shape and line speed and Corbridge settled for a 3 point penalty. For the remainder of the half, Wanderers dominated territory and possession and came close to crossing the try line more than once, but as is often the case, a couple of slipped tackles in mid field allowed Corbridge to break away and score. Wanderers again responded with Jordan Brown, who has been playing very well over recent weeks, slotting a penalty. Back came Corbridge with another break away try after some excellent off-loading. We were in danger of losing touch at this stage but after sustained pressure on the opposition try line, Bertie Marks, quick witted soul that he is, took a tapped penalty and crashed over for an unconverted try to keep Wanderers well in the hunt. 8 – 13 at half-time.
The second half started with a “Tang”, Louis Tang (who had another excellent match). From the kick off, he gathered a bouncing ball, broke a couple of tackles and weaved his way to score under the posts after 24 seconds. In a match where we missed the easy kicks and slotted the difficult ones, Josh Vince-Irwin hit the post with the conversion. Wanderers were now clearly in the ascendancy and further pressure led to another penalty further out and Vince-Irwin on this occasion dissected the posts to give us 3 point cushion. From here on in, the match ebbed and flowed. 2 tries on 10 and 15 minutes saw Centurions regain the lead and despite both sides having further opportunities, this is how the match ended.
In the end, it was narrow margins that won the day – a couple of missed tackles here and there, some reckless offloading, some poor execution at the breakdown – but perhaps more than anything, considering a Wanderers average age of low 20’s, Corbridge’s greater nous and experience saw them home. Nevertheless, although disappointing, this was a good performance from a very young side, many of whom clearly have the ability to go on to play at a higher level. Hopefully we can now round off the season with some well-deserved wins.
Tries: Berti Marks, Louis Tang
Penalties: Jordan Brown, Josh Vince-Irwin
Wanderers won 33 – 15 at home to DMP 3rds in the Candy Cup semi-final. Match report by Huw Reynolds:
Firstly, a big thank you to all those players who took part last Saturday, some at very short notice. Due to numerous late cry-offs, a predominantly forward orientated squad amassed at Northern HQ. We ended up with forwards in the backs, forwards kicking goals, as well as more predictably, forwards in the forwards. It would have been no surprise if we’d seen Duncan Arnold or Laurie Troke serving sausages after the match.
With Ben Waugh stepping into scrum-half (and having an excellent match), Alex Turnbull walking straight off the car park into outside half, Phil Kay (flanker) and James Allison (hooker) in the centres, the game plan was a predicable one i.e. keep it tight. In fairness, with Josh Vince-Irwin at full back, Chris Malley on one wing and debutant flyer Louis Tang on the other wing, we had some serious gas out wide, so it was a case of picking the right opportunities. They were a big side and we knew they would tire which proved to be the case with Northern running in late tries through some expansive rugby.
The match started with a bang. One minute in Alex Turnbull, who was nursing a nasty recurring injury (St Patrick’s Day hangover), picked a great line from a popped pass and ran 50 metres to score in the corner. Sick bags were administered but thankfully not required. DMP responded well and after sustained pressure, scored an equalising try on 8 minutes. Jonny Eames stormed through after numerous surges from the forwards to jink his way over on 17 minutes, converted by Jordan Brown, who also added a penalty on 28 minutes. Unfortunately, a late backlash from DMP resulted in another unconverted try just before half time. 15-10 to the Wanderers at the break.
The second half started similarly to the first. Northern regained possession from the re-start and the forwards rolled forward committing defenders. When the gaps appeared, the ball was shifted wide to flying wing Chris Malley who easily ran round his opposite number to score in the corner. On 55 minutes Jordan Brown slotted a nice penalty to extend the gap. DMP responded again with a try of their own on 47 minutes.
Thereafter and as anticipated, DMP tired, having been dragged around the pitch. The gaps appeared towards the end and Alex Hale, our resident flanker come winger, scorched over in the corner on 77 minutes, followed by Cameron Horrocks in more leisurely fashion on 79 minutes. Final score 33-15 Wanderers.
Mention and thanks must go especially to Louis Tang, Louis Frear, James Allison and Ben Waugh, who all stepped in at short notice and who all played extremely well.
Following an up and down season, we can now look forward to two cup finals to close off the season, as well as potentially some more hangovers.
Tries: Alex Turnbull, Jonny Eames, Chris Malley, Alex Hales, Cameron Horrocks
Conversions: Jordan Brown (1)
Penalties: Jordan Brown (2)
Wanderers won 12 – 5 away to Medicals II. Match report by Huw Reynolds:
This was a well-deserved and hard fought victory for the Wanderers, in slippery conditions against a determined Medicals side. With the ko delayed due to the late arrival of the referee, tensions were high. The coaches had stressed the need to maintain discipline for the full 80 minutes and to the player’s credit, there was no dissent or reaction to some decisions that didn’t go our way. Instead, the team supported and rallied around each other. This was a team effort to which all 20 players in the squad contributed equally.
The first half was a pretty even affair. Medicals took the lead on 14 minutes with an unconverted try out wide. Wanderers demolished their scrum on every occasion. Fair play to their No. 8 who did well to salvage some good possession. Despite our clear upper hand up front, we tried to play a wide and open game which only played into their hands. Eventually, following an excellent break from Chris Malley, the ball was recycled through a number of rucks and the same Chris scored in the corner to level the scores. The penny seemed to drop towards the end of the half when ‘up the jumper tactics’ resulted in a try for Adam Mohammed near the posts, which was converted by Jordan Brown.
The half time feedback was quite basic.
Question: “Where are we beating them?”
Answer: “Up front”.
Question: “So what should we do this half?”
Answer: “Keep it up front”.
And so unfolded the second half, which Northern controlled through forward domination and the unleashing of the backs only when there were clear opportunities. It is therefore to Medicals’ credit that there was no further scores, with them defending doggedly and us going close on many occasions. This did however mean that the tension lasted right up to the final whistle, upon which man-hugs abounded as subs and players embraced warmly, in a very public show of affection.
While this was a win built on a collective performance, it was good to see 2 players who have not played that much this season, Adam Mohammed and Robbie Micheson, produce excellent performances. Cameron Horricks collets ‘D*** of the day’ for getting lost in that metropolis that is Heaton and arriving a tad late.
Tries: Chris Malley
Conversions: Jordan Brown
Candy Cup, Northern Wanderers 32 – 15 Westoe II. Match report by Rob Richardson.
After a run to the final and an outing to Kingston Park last year, cup competitions provide welcome relief from the league. A league in which the distribution of points has had to be altered by Northumberland RFU to accommodate a “top 3” expected to completely outclass all opposition.
Early on the plan of forward runners trying up defenders before unleashing a rapid youthful back line worked well, as Jack Tait found gaps and weak shoulders to run in two tries either side of a Westoe effort. Westoe, having to use up what would best be described as an impact substitute prop earlier than they would have wanted to, achieved their score off a strong scrum. 12-7 Jack’s second effort was converted by Ryan Moore. Before half time Wanderers would add a couple more after some devastating weaving runs from Cory Witwith allowed a short range effort from James Standfield and put David Reah in the corner. 22-7. Cory had a good club debut and when he holds the ball in two hands he will assist a few more tries next week and keep the crowd happy.
The half time team talk should have gone something along the lines of “if we keep doing what we are doing we will win this game” however the words got muddled by Deano who instead pronounced “this game is won!” He then contrived to give away a penalty under our posts. 22-10 General ill-discipline and a kamikaze style of play which involved no kicking, even from a penalty in shadow of our own posts, meant territory and possession favoured Westoe. Pressure told and they narrowed the gap to 22-15. Eventually someone put boot to ball, Deano told a crowded bar later it was perfectly measured and tactical astute box kick, the chase and tackle from David Reah certainly helped! As the game entered the final ten minutes Westoe’s large pack began to flag and a number of pick-and-go’s from the northern eight lead to Cameron Horrocks easing nerves on the touch line. Ryan Moore adding the extras and a penalty minutes later. 32-15
Tries: Jack Tait x2
Conv: Ryan Moore x2
Pen: Ryan Moore
MoM: Ryan Moore (kicking apart)
MoS: Kane Appleby-Rutter
DoD: John-Dean Laws (more the team talk than the kick)