Longton 1st XV 35 v 41 Newbold on Avon
In a rousing opening game at Trentham Fields Longton went down by 41pts. to 35, to newly promoted Newbold, conceding a try in the last 5 minutes and thus surrendering a 35 – 34pts. lead, having fought back from a 34 – 13pt. deficit.
In perfect conditions Longton, having lost five of their first choice backs in the close season,
were hit by a whirlwind start by the visitors who were supremely confident after last season’s promotion. Inside the first 5 minutes Newark has forced two penalties inside the home “22” both of which were slotted over for a 6pt. lead. Longton began to settle and took play into the visitors’ “22” where they were awarded a penalty. Unfortunately, the kick to the corner went dead allowing Newbold to relieve the pressure.
With 16 minutes gone Newbold won a lineout some 28m. out and carried the ball strongly
before moving it right from where full-back, Murray, burst through the defence to touch down for the opening try. The conversion was good taking Newark into a 13 – 0pts. lead. However, 4 minutes later Newbold lost possession and Longton moved the ball right from Grant Hallam, Scott Rawlings and Pete Clifton to fly-half, Lee Brogan, who scampered in for the home side’s opening try. Grant Hallam converted reducing the deficit to 13 – 7pts.
In the 24th minute Longton lost possession when building an attack and Newbold
immediately took advantage to score their second try through the middle. The conversion
took the score to 20 – 7pts. Then, with 26 minutes gone Scott Rawlings won a penalty for
not releasing after his tackle and Grant Hallam slotted over the kick from in front of the posts for a 20 – 10pts. score line. However, in the 30th minute Scott Rawlings was yellow carded in his own “22” and Newbold decided on the scrum option from which they moved the ball wide right. As the winger dived for the corner he was tackled by Jack Newton-Taylor into the corner flag and in so doing put a foot into touch before grounding the ball. The touch judge raised his flag but the referee mysteriously awarded the try and to rub salt into the wound the conversion was superbly struck between the posts putting Newbold 27 – 10pts. ahead. With half time approaching Grant Hallam landed a superb penalty from 45m. to make it 27 – 13pts. However, there was still time for more scoring as Newark moved the ball right at pace with full-back, Murray, cutting a fine angle inside the defence to touch down under the posts. The conversion took the score to 34 – 13pts. leaving Longton with a mountain to climb to get back into the game. They took the first step right on half-time when, following a yellow card to visiting prop, Dawes, the resultant penalty was kicked to the corner from where a catch- and-drive at the lineout saw the Longton pack drive over for the try. The conversion attempt just went wide and half-time came with the score at 34 – 18pts.
This was the classic game of two halves as Longton were to dominate the second period.
With 9 minutes gone Grant Hallam kicked a penalty from in front of the posts, thus reducing the deficit to 34 – 21pts. For the next 20 minutes Longton bombarded the visitors’ line and three times were held up over the line when trying to ground the ball. However, with 21 minutes gone Longton won a lineout on halfway and moved the ball left to Scott Rawlings who threw a long pass to scrum-half, Eddie Askew, looping round. He then dummied to pass left but instead cut inside; he then stepped and dummied his way through to touch down in the corner for a superbly taken try. Grant Hallam converted with an excellent kick to make the score 34 – 28pts. Longton now scented a most unlikely victory as they attacked ceaselessly when they opted to take a scrum on 25mins. from in front of the posts. With Scott Rawlings lurking on a wide blindside a score looked a real possibility. However, Newbold produced their best scrum of the match to turn the ball over and so deny Longton the opportunity. With 30 minutes gone Longton attacked again and from a scrum on the left Jack Newton- Taylor stepped back inside to open up a gap to the line and he duly dived in under the posts. Grant Hallam’s conversion gave Longton the lead for the first time in the match by a slender one point at 35 – 34pts. Longton received the kick off and broke out from their own half as Scott Rawlings scythed through towards the visitors’ “22”. With two supporting runners outside him and with no defenders in sight the ball slipped from the big centre’s grasp as he was about to make the simple try scoring pass. Newbold though were not finished and from a lineout they spun the ball out followed by a deft inside pass which freed up the supporting player to race in under the posts. The conversion made the score 41 – 35pts. With time running out Longton attacked again and put the defence under pressure but they were able to scramble the ball into touch as the whistle blew for full-time to end a pulsating match with Longton grateful to pick up a losing bonus point and four try bonus point.
There were plenty of positives for the re-vamped home team with the returning displays of Eddie Askew and Sam Longstaff particularly pleasing. Next week Longton travel to newly promoted Newport for a tough game where they will encounter former star man, Hendry Vaka.