Bromsgrove 7pts v Newport 24pts
Newport capped off their magnificent season by adding the North Midlands Cup to their Midlands Premier League title by beating Bromsgrove at Worcester last Sunday. It wasn’t a great game in all honesty with the result seemingly decided when Newport raced into a twelve-point lead after just six minutes but whilst Bromsgrove had their moments they never seemed to quite have the cutting edge to trouble a resolute Newport defence. Indeed, both teams should be applauded for their defensive efforts at the end of a long hard season especially on a fairly hard and testing surface.
Newport were missing regulars Sam Brown and Oli Buckley together with the long term injured Jack Price and Chris Perry but they were still able to name a strong squad with cup rules also allowing for eight players to be named on the bench. It was great to see youngsters Finn Barnes and Jack Ingram get some minutes on the pitch and also Benny Elliot who made his final appearance before leaving to take up a Player/Coach role at Cheshire club Winnington Park.
Both teams engaged in some early kick-tennis before James Morton found some space down the left flank and raced forty metres to within five before being brought down by a high tackle. Newport were unable to benefit from the penalty advantage so Jake Leonard popped it into the corner whereupon Port skipper Tom Cowell was driven over for the opening score.
Despite playing up the slope Newport were soon back in the Grove twenty-two with the ball being spun right to Nemani Rayabo who made light work of dancing in for the try, Leonard converting this time to make it 0 – 12 early doors. The game then became somewhat fragmented when first the game was halted following a collision between Matt Hubbart and Henry Vaka, the burly second row coming off second best. Eight on the bench is great but no second row so Hubbart was forced to soldier on for the full eighty in what has been a fantastic landmark season for the Brewood farmer since his return from New Zealand.
Newport then forced a five-metre scrum that was delayed for several minutes whilst a Bromsgrove player sought out a replacement size 11 boot, the original somehow ripped to pieces from his foot. Somewhat bizarre that the game should be held up rather than a replacement made from the bench? The game restarted after what seemed an eternity only for Newport to mess up the chance with Bromsgrove able to clear. A couple of forward replacements gave Grove control up front and they were soon exerting pressure and drawing penalties from referee Callum Watson. The pressure paid off eventually as they drove over from a short distance catch and drive to reduce the arrears to 7 -12.
As Bromsgrove continued to press a promising move broke down on half way and Rayabo was on hand to twice hack through the lost ball with the second of those standing up nicely for him to regather and sprint in by the posts, Leonard’s conversion bringing a very much extended half to a close at 7 – 19.
Any thoughts Grove had of a comeback were dashed almost immediately from the re-start when Vaka glimpsed an opportunity and ghosted through as only he can to claim the fourth try, no bonus points up for grabs today but a significant try nevertheless and a score-line now of 7 – 24.
As both teams emptied their bench any fluency was maybe lost, both teams coming close, Grove by way of short-range battering rams whilst Port continued to play open, expansive rugby but neither method drew any success. Sam Evans came close on a couple of occasions whilst Grove seemed to spend countless time in the Newport twenty-two without any reward as the defence held.
Full time could not come soon enough to end a relentless season for both clubs with Tom Cowell collecting the cup on which Newport would find their name engraved for a fourth time.
Team: 15 Leonard, 14 Rayabo, 13 Vaka, 12 Bailey, 11 S Evans, 10 Castledine, 9 Adams, 8 Taylor, 7 Mahoney, 6 Morton, 5 Hubbart, 4 Goulson, 3 Manning, 2 Cowell, 1 Grass
Bench: 16 Wells, 17 Nixon, 18 Wilson, 19 Kendall, 20 Barnes, 21 Ingram, 22 Egerton, 23 Elliot
Seasons don’t come much better than this and whilst the coaches and players will enjoy their summer’s break they will doubtless have one eye awaiting the RFU announcement as to which National Division 2 they will be allocated to for their next campaign. Exciting times await. A huge thank you is due to the officials and followers who have turned up in their numbers home and away to support this marvellous team. Well Done everyone!
Written by Chris Wilde