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Newark looking good in face of friendly fire


A new-look 1st XV looks set to start the season for Newark Rugby Club following a major pre-season match against Nottingham Corsairs on Monday evening at Kelham Road.

A 200-strong crowd watched a mix of old and new faces restrict a strong Nottingham side, that included a number of contracted players from their National League One squad, to a 21-5 success.

Newark coaches Bob Fowkes and Bob Nashed took great encouragement from the defensive effort that kept Nottingham to victory by three tries to one.

The biggest changes in the likely line up for Newark’s first game in Midlands Two East look to be in the forwards where it will take some time for supporters to get used to the fact that two stalwart front row forwards in Ben Vidler and Micky Barker have carried out their intention to retire.

The duo’s strength helped Newark develop a highly effective mauling game that took the club to fourth in the league last season, and the likely replacements look to be newcomers Ryan Mills from Nottingham and Olly Cole from Market Rasen.

Cole missed out on the action on Monday evening because of a hamstring strain, leaving Mills to have a busy night against some old colleagues in an entertaining match.

Behind the front row, Newark need to find regular replacements in the back five following the retirement of Chris Coen and the work demands on Jon Evans that will limit the lock’s appearances.

Liam Mather, another recruit from Nottingham, is a contender for a place along with Andrew Briggs from Paviors.

Mather scored Newark’s try against the Corsairs in the second half after the visitors had built a 21-0 lead.

Other candidates to grab a place in the Newark pack at lock include Richard Primmet, a 2nd XV regular last season, and the consistent Mark Staines who considered retirement only to have second thoughts.

Newark’s backline looks to be more settled. Danny Coen and Michael Dobson formed an effective halfback pairing against Nottingham, backed up by centres Jo Cormack and new captain Ed Collishaw.

On the wings Aloesi “Buddha” Waqalevu and Johnny Statham started in a back three completed by another familiar face in full-back Richard Byrom, who is starting his 36th season of competitive rugby.

Newark, who start their league action next Saturday at Mansfield, complete their preparations by travelling to Newport in Shropshire tomorrow (3pm).

Newark 2nd XV started the campaign by beating Kesteven 32-7 in a friendly at Kelham Road, with some strong running and good support play rewarded by tries from Alex Statham, Richard Clark, Chris Blood, Rob Dunning and Jon Webster.

A mixed Newark 3rds and 4ths squad went to East Leake for a training game where, despite tries from Tom Holmes and Ben Mason, the hosts’ 1st XV ran out 22-10 winners.

Newark 4th XV finished runners-up in the plate section at the Retford Sevens where their best result was a 33-21 win over Mosborough.

Newark 2nds, 3rds and 4ths are scheduled to play opposition from Syston tomorrow, with the 3rds at home (3pm).

Newark Colts have been drawn away to Boston in the first round of the National Colts Cup.

Southwell 1sts travelled to Boston for a trial match against league opposition and performing badly in the first periods but recovered in the closing stages to close the scoreline to 27-14.

Jamie Speed-Andrews and Luke Brooks got the tries for the Redmen, with Paul Rich converting both.

Southwell will be hoping for a scoreline in their favour tomorrow when they entertain Market Harborough tomorrow in the first round of the National Vase.

Southwell Under-17s followed their successful tour of Canada with a 29-0 win against Matlock with tries from Ben Birch (2) Ollie Stamford, Joe McHale and Reece Dixon.

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