Below Par All Whites
SSE National Three South West
Weston-super-Mare 19 – Newton Abbot 13
Following the previous week’s narrow defeat to League Leaders Lydney (16-14), the ‘All Whites’ travelled with high hope of revenge for their 13-12 home defeat at the hands of Weston-super-Mare earlier in the season.
The first encounter was memorable for the fifth minute red card shown to flanker Jason Keenan for a ‘tip tackle’. And once again referee karl Gibson was at the centre of attention as he denied Newton what would have been a match winning penalty try in time added on.
However, late victory for the visitors would only have been papering over the cracks of what was acknowledged as a below par performance which started with the concession of a try within the opening minute.
Weston kicked off, Newton failed to gather, home flanker Paul Morrissey scored under the posts and James Mackay converted to put his side in front where they stayed for the duration.
Newton hit back immediately, a catch and try lineout was driven to Weston’s line where scrum-half Matt Newman touched down; Laurence May’s conversion attempt was narrowly wide.
For the second time Newton didn’t collect the kick-off resulting in a penalty attempt for Mackay. The dependable fly half hit the post with this attempt but made no mistake with another a couple of minutes later for a 10-5 lead.
Fly-half May then banged over a 40 metre penalty before a duo of penalties by Mackay within three minutes of one another had his side 16-8 to the good.
Mackay was given a ten minute yellow card break around halftime for a tip tackle. Before the end of the first half Newton created a couple of open play chances without turning either into points.
A good break up the middle by May created an overlap but a loose pass from the support took the momentum out of the move and allowed the home defence to re-organise. Full-back Steve Ward looked likely to score with the last play of the half but was tackled just short of the line.
However, soon after the resumption, another catch and drive try credited to No 8 Ben Cole reduced the arrears to three points.
Mackay returned to the fray to add his fourth penalty of the afternoon before limping of with a hamstring problem.
A try one end against a penalty the other were the only scores in a second half ruled by two strong defences. Few chances were created with the best falling to the home side who went close to scoring with a sweeping move. A late tackle in the lead-up saw Newton winger Kyle Browne sin binned.
Newton’s scrummage was severely tested at times on their line but held out.
With time running out the Devonians set up a catch and drive lineout thirty metres from Weston’s line. The maul surged forward at more than walking pace until illegally stopped five metres short when a try seemed inevitable.
The referee issued a yellow card and then another when the next maul was again stopped illegally; and while the official was unwilling to award a penalty try Weston were happy to offend to preserve their lead until a Newton knock-on heralded the final whistle.
The pros and cons of those last few minutes will be debated at length; however the game was lost by a poor start and the subsequent below par performance.
For the second week running, Newton outscored their opponents by two tries to one but only earned a losing bonus point for their efforts.
Nevertheless, with games in hand over most of the sides above, Newton still have the opportunity to much improve their current eighth place over the closing eight matches; the first of which is tomorrow against visiting Amersham & Chiltern.
There is an interesting fixture at Rackerhayes on Sunday afternoon when Newton Abbot U17’s make their first ever appearance in the National Cup for this age group by taking on their Bournemouth counterparts.