Relegation avoided after last-day drama
Survival was secured on the final day as Southwell held their nerve to claim an excellent victory at high-fliers Coalville.
They went into the match needing two points to avoid relegation from Midlands Division Two East (North) — but without influential player-coach Dan Montagu.
After falling behind early on, Southwell put in a dominant performance to claim a bonus-point win and climb three places to eighth in the final standings.
Coalville were the better team in the opening stages and took the lead with powerful forward running as Southwell showed signs of nerves,
James Barker slotted over a penalty a few minutes later, but third-placed Coalville continued to dominate and added a second score to move 14-3 ahead.
A try-saving tackle by Isaac Sherwood prevented Southwell going further behind and seemed to spark the Redmen into life.
Skipper George Machin opened their try-scoring after being fed an excellent line by man-of-the-match Aaron Whitaker.Barker kicked the conversion.
Southwell kept up the pressure with a long kick that was cleared by Coavlille to Ed Hammond, who set a sweeping team move in motion for Mark Layfield to touch down.
The visitors continued to press before half-time and good work from their own 22 allowed Whitaker to score a try for a 20-14 lead.
Another good break by full-back Whitaker set up Layfield for his second score, with Barker adding the conversion to stretch Southwell’s advantage.
Coalville reduced the deficit to 29-19, but Southwell extended the lead again through Whitaker’s second try.
The home side set up a nervous final 20 minutes for the visitors, however, with a converted try to move within eight points at 34-26.
Southwell won a penalty but, with Barker substituted and Josh Hart receiving a yellow card, there was no recognised kicker to take it.
Whitaker stepped up and kicked the ball between the posts to add a little breathing space.
With time running out, a player was sent off from either side following a 30-man brawl.
Coalville added a late try to increase the tension, but Southwell hung on.
The win meant Notts Casuals were relegated as Southwell climbed above them, Loughborough and Ilkeston.
- At the player’s presentation awards, Nathan Beastall received the player of the season award, Ben Jackson claimed the young player award and Phil Cureton was named the most improved player.