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Newark ready for Mansfield


Newark Rugby Club start the new Midlands Two East league season at Mansfield tomorrow encouraged by a 29-29 draw from a trip to Newport, the Shropshire-based Midlands One club.

A late rally that brought tries from backs Chris Blood and Aloesi Waqalevu earned Newark a draw from a friendly match that has raised confidence in the squad before the start of competitive league action.

Newark clawed their way back from 29-15 down in the last quarter after leading 15-12 early in the second half when David Fagan dropped a goal from 40 metres out. The kick was part of an impressive afternoon from the 18-year-old who started at full-back and moved to outside-half after Michael Dobson sustained an ankle injury in the final moments of the first half.

Dobson had been injured just before he dashed over for Newark’s first try that cut Newport’s initial advantage of 12-0 from two tries and a conversion.

Fagan took over at number ten and grabbed Newark’s second try just before half-time following his charge down and a break from prop Ryan Mills.

Newport’s greater strength up front was a significant factor throughout and they made the advantage tell in the second half to score two more tries after Fagan had produced his moment of skill.

Fagan was sin-binned two minutes later at a ruck on the Newark line, but his return sparked a revival in fortunes during the final quarter when the visitors began to move the ball away from the tiring forwards. Blood finished off one move for the third try which Fagan converted.

That score put Newark within seven of Newport and the fourth try arrived when Fagan started a counter-attack. He was well supported by wing Russell Westcott before Waqalevu broke clear on the left to score under the posts, giving Fagan an easy conversion.

An encouraging factor in Newark’s performance was the inclusion of players from last season’s Colts team. Besides Fagan and Westcott, James Dyer and Freddie Tatham were among the second half substitutes.

The overall display gives Newark coaches Bob Fowkes and Bob Nashed plenty to ponder before tomorrow’s trip to Mansfield. Three senior players, Danny Coen, Lewis Cove and Shaun May, who missed Saturday’s game, are expected to return.

A number of new faces are expected to make their league debuts. Mills, the former Nottingham prop, could well be joined by back five forwards in Liam Mather, Andrew Briggs and Kaci Saini.

Syston 2nds 19

Newark 2nds 14

Newark 2nds led 14-7 at half-time in a club match at Syston, but two late tries for the Leicestershire team turned around fortunes after the interval.

Despite the narrow defeat, Newark took plenty of encouragement through the display of a young team, and tries before half-time from wing David Walters and fellow winger Alex Statham were both converted by Dan Harrison.

Walters scored through an individual effort in which he raced 30 metres, while Statham touched down after a kick ahead by Mark Miller.

Newark 3rds 24

Syston 3rds 17

A strong second-half performance brought Newark victory at Kelham Road. After losing the previous week at East Leake, the 3rds made up for it through tries by flanker Tom Holmes, centre Steve Hodge and the half-back pairing of Ben Ennals and Bryan Loftus. Jim McEwen added two conversions.

Syston 4ths 48

Newark 4ths 5

A late try from veteran and Colts coach Richard Bunn earned Newark a consolation score in a hard match against a strong home XV.

The touchdown was part of a good second period after Syston had dominated the opening 40 minutes. Manager Martin Brown singled out half-backs Tom Lee and James Witton for good contributions.

Newark’s four senior XVs all play Mansfield opposition tomorrow. The 1sts and 3rds are away while the 2nds and 4ths play at Kelham Road, kick-off 3pm.

Southwell 1sts 0

Mkt Harboro 31

Spectators to Park Lane on Saturday would be forgiven for thinking that the Redmen had somehow pulled off an amazing coup in that the opposition from a distance looked remarkably like Stade Francais who also play in pink.

The game started with Market Harborough showing the kind of rugby that obviously served them well during their unbeaten league campaign last season as they set about the home side’s defence with speed and aggression.

Although the Redmen defended well, they couldn’t stem the tide and the visitors soon scored three quickfire tries with some quick hands and slick passing.

Southwell continued to try and hold the line but they were made to pay for frustrating pre-season with many players unavailable for the previous matches which meant that this was the first time many players had lined up together.

Southwell 2nds 8

Nottinghamians 22

The Reapers took the field for the first time this season and faced stiff opposition from Nottinghamians 1st XV squad, with six players making their senior rugby debut.

There was an excellent effort all round, with some fine work from man of the match Toby Shearwood, and a try and a penalty from Richard Wagstaff gave them a slim 8-7 lead at the interval.

The opposition rang the changes with a complete team of new players and came back at the tired Reapers defence to run out 22-8 victors.

Ollerton XV 21

Mansfield XV 12

Ollerton turned out a mixture of first and second team players against a mixture of Mansfield 3rds and 4ths and won 21-12 at home in a cracking game of rugby, with Ollerton scoring three tries to Mansfield’s two.

Ollerton’s first try was a spectacular one as winger Eric Cranmer ran 70 yards to score, evading several players on his way to the try line, before number eight Andy Hinds crashed over under the posts following good work by the forwards. Both tries were converted, one by fly-half Steve Porsze and the other from second row Grant Dixon as Ollerton led 14-7 at the break.

Ollerton scored again soon after the interval when a good break out wide was finished off in style by Porsze under the posts, and he converted his own try.

Tomorrow: Ollerton 2nds v Ripley Rhinos (away) meet 1pm at the ground.

Ollerton A v OTBN, Meet 1pm at the ground.

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