Lordswood vs New Ash Green 20-13
Dallas off piste but Lords don’t go downhill!
This game had a lot going for it. Good positive rugby from both teams and it was therefore fitting that the eventual result was not overshadowed by the unfortunate sending off of Lordswood 2nd row Tom Dallas.
Lordswood started into the wind and from the kick off New Ash Green went long. Skipper Patrick Edgcumbe was straight into the game and made a clean catch. To everyone’s surprise he elected to kick himself. Dan Carter rest easy. No further comment necessary.
NAG had field position and after a couple of frustrated attempts to get their driving maul going opted to take the penalty from in front. Nothing easy in this wind but duly converted with what turned out to be the only kicked points of the game. 5 gone 0 – 3.
This score should have encouraged NAG but instead it inspired Lordswood who for the next 25 minutes played their best rugby of the season. From the usual solid platform which is now taken for granted from the consistent front five, Lordswood mixed the game up. This was done intelligently and allowing for the poor conditions. Short sympathetic passes were made by the backs and complimented by neat interplay from the forwards in particular Tom Dallas, Chris Callaway and Callum Austen Watkins.
Lordswood were now starting to have the better of the territory and possession and NAG were getting frustrated. This frustration showed itself with comments to the referee who was having none of it – yellow and NAG were down to 14.
Veteran Paul Notley, starting at fly half, was eager to make the most of this and from the NAG 10 metre line made a scything break. He linked with Dallas who set up the ruck. It was Notley himself who received the recycled ball before giving a pass to Pat Edgcumbe 10 yards out. The prop still had a bit to do but taking 3 NAG defenders with him, barrelled over the line. 19 minutes gone 5 – 3.
Lordswood’s best passage of play came from the restart. A good high kick from NAG was again plucked effortlessly out of the air by Edgcumbe in a carbon copy of the first play. This time he opted for the more traditional straight run which was far more effective and took Lords to the edge of their own 22. From the ruck Callum Watkins charged on to the 10 metre line before the backs took control. Connor Gue, steady at full back, now showed what he could do in attack and Dave Evans finished off the move with a grubber to the NAG 5 metre line. End to end stuff!
NAG were under pressure on their own line and in the wind conceded the scrum. Lordswood seized the opportunity and Callaway picked up, made yards and fed Notley who went over for the score. 10 – 3. With 30 minutes gone all was looking positive for the home side and they were once again in the NAG half. The instrumental Notley was calling the tune. Making one of his many breaks he was tackled and then clearly kicked in the head. Not prepared to let this go unchallenged, Tom Dallas stepped in followed by several of the NAG team. Dallas had been one of the stand out players up to this point and having come straight to the game from his skiing holiday can only be admired for his commitment. As the melee died down all waited for the referee’s interpretation of events. Unfortunately like the big kid in the playground there was no hiding place for Dallas and the referee produced a red card for retaliation. Those NAG players involved were somehow off scot free. Unsighted the referee did not witness the original incident but still yellow carded the NAG offender who was disinclined to get involved in the scuffle himself. Of course the referee made the correct call according to the laws but not easy to standby and watch your defenceless team mate get kicked. As the saying goes – the law can sometimes be an ass.
All calm and there was a little more space for the NAG backs who ran in a well worked try in the right corner. 10 – 8 and it looked like it was going to be a long second half. (it was – literally!). Lordswood did now at least have the wind in their favour and it was clear they were going to try to make the most of it.
Having 14 men meant Lordswood had to reign in their ambitions to play 15 man rugby (difficult with only 14 on the field!) and looked to dominate the forward battle. Steve Bailey was introduced at flanker and his son Elliot Bailey in the centre. Both made immediate impacts in attack and defence. Lordswood were having to work hard as NAG tried to take advantage of their extra man. James Carroll in particular made some great hits, one in particular where he tracked his man fully thirty yards before duly levelling him. Lordswood were next to score though, 15 minutes into the half through the tried and trusted rolling maul. Ben Venables being the man to emerge with the ball. 15 – 8.
This bit of breathing space only lasted 3 minutes as in a rare visit to the Lordswood 22 NAG scored a try in the left corner. 22 minutes to go 15 – 13.
Lordswood could have started to panic at this point but they didn’t. Instead they returned to their plan. Every time NAG tried to get themselves out of the confines of their own 22 either scrum half Gareth Lister or stand in fly half Dave Evans kicked them back to where they started It is worth mentioning that at this point Paul Notley had moved into the forwards where he showed he was as accomplished there as he had been in the backs.
NAG soaked up the pressure conceding numerous penalties just short of the line but by this time the referee seemed to have forgotten where his cards were. Finally the ball was moved away from the forwards and it was Dave Evans who went over for the score. 20 – 13 with no more than a couple of minutes left or so we thought.
The game actually continued for a further 10 minutes and in the darkness NAG pressed. They looked to run the ball into the left hand corner where they had their earlier success but this time the NAG winger spilled the ball forward following a Dave Jacobs bone cruncher. The Lords scrum had been solid all day and there was no way they were going to lose this one. The ball was punted into touch to seal the win.
Two tries in two weeks for Pat Edgcumbe saw him named as the man of the match but he was pushed hard by James Carroll, Callum Watkins and particularly the old war horse Paul Notley.
Saturday 19th December the 1st team are away at Kings College (14.00pm kick off) and the 2s are at home to Old Williamsonians.