Red hot relaunch at Newark Rugby Club’s Kelham Road
Competitive rugby returned to Kelham Road for the first time since March 2020 on Saturday as Newark’s first-teamers tested themselves against Leicester Forest.
A good start and a couple of late tries were the highlights of the opener, which the visitors won 43-24.
Newark’s director or rugby, Tim Barker, said it was good to be back — despite a lack of scrums or mauls.
“The match was much quicker because in a normal game if there was a minor infringement, the game stops, you have a scrum and its gives the players time to slow down before they go again,” said Barker.
“But now there isn’t a scrum, and if we knock it on the ref pulls it up and they can tap and go.
“It makes it much, much more dynamic but it is a spectacle and the spectators quite liked it.”
He said players needed to be much fitter for this version of the game.
The first real action in the tie saw a Leicester yellow card offence for a deliberate knock down.
Newark ran the penalty and Matt Cox put centre Chris Tate into space and the ex-captain showed a clean pair of heels to cut through the defence to score.
The back row of Dave Garland, Sean Denning and James Dyson worked tirelessly, while James Brogden and Josh White were also prominent.
Newark led 5-0 at the break but the second half proved to be very different as a lack of match fitness caught up with both sides.
Leicester started strongly and scored two converted tries within the first five minutes. They added two more tries in the next 15 minutes and the game ran away from Newark at 26-5.
However, Newark pulled a try back as debutant George Bacon went over in the corner from a nicely-weighted pass from Cox.
Leicester Forest responded with two more tries to put them comfortably ahead at 38-10, but the home side showed character by adding two late converted tries of their own through Connor Slack and Alex O’Dell.
The action didn’t stop there though, as the visitors capped off the game with a try of their own.
Barker said overall, the day was a success, despite the result.
“There was a fair few down and we have made a real effort over the last month to allow people to come down and stay within the regulations,” he explained.
On Saturday, Newark host Scunthorpe (3pm).