Newport Vs Broadstreet

Newport’s hopes of a top two finish are still alive after a tough encounter with a very well drilled and combative Broadstreet team. The opposition’s recent form, nine wins, one draw and one loss, since the reverse fixture last November, gave every indication that there would be no quarter given, and they did not disappoint. In the end it was fortuitous that Broadstreet were also still in with an outside chance of getting into a play-off spot, and turned down two simple penalty kicks late in the game, choosing on both occasions, to kick for an attacking lineout, in the hope of winning the game. A draw was of no benefit to Broadstreet, but had they opted for it, it would have signalled the end of Newport’s dreams.

As it transpired Newport’s defence stood firm, just!

With Alex Haselock still sidelined through injury, the experienced Toby Mann started again on the left wing. Up front, squad rotation meant that Craig Wilson started at tighthead and Jack Wells was amongst the replacements. On the blindside Henry Purchase returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured, Will Roach. There was also a return to the match-day eighteen for Liam Holder, who has been out injured for some months.

Conditions were nigh on perfect. There was virtually no wind, the skies were clear and the ground firm. A healthy crowd was in attendance on the bank, with an even bigger gathering of two hundred plus ladies, providing a bizarre background hubbub.

Both teams demonstrated their intent to keep the ball in hand, and their confidence to mount attacking plays from deep inside their own territory, early in the game. Unfortunately for Newport, a lack of accuracy in the seventh minute, meant that Broadstreet’s No 8, Brett Daynes, read the play and intercepted a pass, allowing him to gallop home untouched, to score under the posts. With the simple conversion successfully added, Broadstreet were 7-0 to the good, with only seven minutes on the clock.To make matters worse for Newport, Wilson had sustained a heavy blow to the ribs a minute earlier and was able to take no further part in the game.

Newport, it has to be said, were far too quiet for the entire first half and despite scoring a perfectly executed team try to level the scores after ten minutes, were second best for the remainder of the half.

The try had begun with a line-out won, off the top, by Kirk Robinson. This quick ball allowed Monty Maule, to put the hard running Nathan Parker through a hole, and the big lock made good ground, before finding the supporting Henry Vaka on his inside. The beauty of the try was that Parker had options on both shoulders and it was an indicator that if Newport played with pace, that Broadstreet may struggle to live with it.

Midway through the half Newport did take the lead, a Maule penalty bisecting the posts from twenty five metres, but it was Broadstreet who were in the ascendency. Despite having a man in the sin bin for ten minutes, it was they who scored two tries and they were managing to impose their own tempo and game style into the match. They were particularly effective at slowing down Newport’s play and their employment of the choke tackle was used repeatedly to great effect. The Newport faithful would think that on  more than a few occasions the initial player was too high on the ball carrier, but good teams play the referee and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough. To be fair to Mr. Caunt, international referees have struggled with policing this tactic for years and although cited by many as a blight on the game, whilst it’s still permissible, it can be a very powerful tactic.

Broadstreet’s second try came via a catch and drive, and although a fine chop tackle from Jordan Grass, repelled the initial ball carrier breaking for the line, a series of pick and goes, resulted in prop, George Walsh, touching down. Their third, again the result of forward power, saw the Newport scrum driven backwards and Daynes drop on the ball to record his second score of the afternoon.

19-10 down at the break, and Newport were staring down the barrel of a gun. Not only had the team not really asserted themselves on the game, they had made some poor decisions, and most tellingly, had not played with enough pace. Were this to continue, then it was an absolute certainty that the spoils would be taken by the men in green and white, and Newport’s aspirations of promotion would be extinguished.

What’s said in changing rooms remains sacred, however the turnaround after the break, saw Newport take a grip of the game, and in doing so score two tries and fourteen points, which gave them the lead, after only ten minutes of play.

The early indicators were very positive.  In the second minute good hands, had seen Max Himbury receive the ball on the right wing. He has been growing in confidence game by game, and throughout Newport’s lean spell of form recently, he has certainly been one of the better performers. He put in a chip and chase, and but for an unlucky bounce, he would have been in. Two minutes later, and after another series of crisp passes, Himbury was released again. Only a fully committed tackle, a metre from the line, saw him forced into touch, and the ball spilt forward. At the resulting scrum, Broadstreet’s scrum-half fumbled the ball and Newport were awarded a scrum and given the advantage.

Robinson chose to attack the blind side, but when he was halted, the ball was rapidly transferred to the left wing, where RAF speedster Mann’s hand-off, sat his opposite number down, and he sprinted home. Maule added the extras, with a superb touchline conversion. Only three further minutes elapsed before a short side break by Maule allowed him to feed Vaka.  Those who have watched Newport for the last five years have seen this often, but the way Henry can ghost though the defensive line without a hand being laid on him, is something to behold. Sadly, there’s no additional points for scoring from distance, and with Maule successful conversion it was now 24-19 to Newport.

Newport were now playing at pace, and as predicted, Broadstreet were battling to deal with this. Rhys Morgan had replaced Purchase on the flank, and was chipping in with a few route one canters, collecting would be tacklers along the way, as well as a couple of vital turnovers at the breakdown. Jack Price’s fitness, which saw him covering every blade of grass in attack and defence, Mann’s determination and will to win every inch of ground  and Grass’ covering tackle – not many loose-heads would have the pace to do this -all typified the effort and desire shown throughout the second half.

Broadstreet are a good outfit though, and after being second best for over twenty minutes, they replied, through what they do best, catch and drive. In our two encounters this season Broadstreet have scored six catch and drive tries. Newport knew it was coming, but when well executed it can be nigh on impossible to stop, legally. With the conversion missed it was now 24 a-piece.

Newport then retook the lead through a second Maule penalty, and so began what seemed like the longest fifteen minutes of rugby ever. Newport, when in possession were throwing caution to the wind and attempting to keep ball in hand, in their efforts to get the bonus point, fourth try. In doing so they were potentially sacrificing the win, but at the business end of the season, that one illusive point maybe vital. Broadstreet too, were going all out for the win and as previously mentioned, passed up the opportunity of a draw, on two occasions. The effort shown in attack and defence by every last man on both teams was admirable.

What was more than admirable though, and worthy of special mention, are the actions of Broadstreet’s Brett Daynes. In the dying moments of a full on battle, between two teams, both pushing for promotion to the National Leagues, and with the ball still in play, he stopped and assisted Newport’s, Parker, who had gone down with cramp. Such sportsmanship, in the heat of battle is a huge credit to the man and to his club.

The dying minutes saw Broadstreet camped on the Newport line, and only stellar defensive work prevented the visitors stealing the show. Final score 27-24.

Although both Scunthorpe and Luctonians achieved bonus point wins, Newport’s victory keeps them in the mix. Next up, a visit to Burton, who had a heavy defeat away to Luctonians this Saturday.

Team: Grass, Cowell (C), Wilson, Buckley, Parker, Purchase, Price, Robinson, Brown, Maule, Mann, Vaka, Perry, Himbury, Bailey, Wells, Holder, Morgan.