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 Injuries disrupt Oakham as Newark fight back for Cup victory



Oakham RFC 1st XV 20
Newark RFC 1st XV  27

 

Oakham welcomed Newark to the Showground on Saturday for the first round of the RFU knockout Cup. With both sides having had a difficult start to the season it promised to be a close affair. 

 

Prior to kick off a minute's silence was observed in memory of Oakham player Savenaca Koroibulileka who tragically died on the pitch in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago and also for Oakham RFC stalwart Richard Watson, a former Club Captain and President for many years who passed away recently.

 

  Heavy showers before kick-off, and a stiff breeze, promised to make handling conditions difficult as Newark kicked off playing into the breeze. Oakham were soon into their stride and a series of drives put Newark on the back foot before a well-judged kick ahead by Oakham was taken over their line by Newark resulting in a five-metre scrum with Oakham put in. 

 

Despite being under pressure Stee Vukinavanua managed to force his way across the gain line before Ed Balmford latched onto the ball at pace, taking a couple of defenders with him as he crashed over the Newark line for the opening score. Callum Crellin converted to give Oakham a 7-0 lead after eight minutes.

 

From the kick-off Oakham set up another series of drives heading deep into Newark territory before the visitors conceded a penalty. Crellin increased Oakham’s lead with a well struck kick for 10-0 with ten minutes played. 

 

Playing with confidence 

 

The home side were playing with confidence spreading the ball wide and attacking from their own twenty-two. This confidence soon evaporated as they were made to pay the price when, instead of securing the ball, they attempted to offload under pressure resulting in a badly sliced clearance kick which was seized by a delighted |Newark wing as he went over in the corner. 

 

The conversion was missed but Newark were back in the game somewhat against the run of play at 10-5 with fourteen minutes played.

Oakham were still on top as they continued to cause problems for the Newark defence with Balmford and  Vukinavanua frequently crossing the gain line to give Oakham good ball for the backs to run onto.

 

  On the half hour mark another break from Balmford saw the ball moved quickly to Glenn on the left wing.  Cleverly stepping inside the Newark defence he accelerated away before drawing the full back and passing to Dan Cousens who outpaced the cover to score in the corner.  An excellent conversion by Crellin from the touchline saw Oakham increase the lead to 17-5. 

 

 

Despite the scrum being under pressure, and having to reduce the lineout numbers, Oakham were coping well with the big Newark pack, and with Oakham backs looking to have the advantage everything seemed to be going Oakham’s way. 

 

Clever interception

 

Another break by Charlie Mckee looked to be leading to another score but a clever interception by Newark saw them race away upfield only for Crellin to make a great cover tackle in the corner to deny  Newark what looked like a certain try.  

 

Oakham moved the ball upfield again and Leon Fifield again put Mckee away but he  failed to find support with his infield pass to see another chance to increase the lead go begging. Oakham were awarded another penalty calmly slotted by Crellin to increase the lead at half time to 20-5.

 

 

Their dominance of the first half had not come without problems for Oakham as injuries began to take their toll and  an outstanding performance from Ed Balmford was curtailed by a shoulder injury. Charlie Mckee was also replaced with a head injury, together with prop Chris Carr. 

 

 

The changes seemed to give Newark a lift and their pack were gradually taking control.  With ten minutes of the second period played, Oakham conceded ground and Newark drove forward to create space out wide for a score in the corner which was unconverted 20-10.

 

   Oakham were now the team under pressure as they defended wave on wave of Newark attacks.  With another reshuffle of the pack forced by injury to lock Russell Hopkins Oakham then conceded a five- metre scrum which Newark applied heavy pressure and drove |Oakham over their own line for a converted try; 20-17 with ten minutes to play. 

 

Oakham tried in vain to break the pressure which Newark were now exerting but were unable to take advantage as Newark had a player sin binned late on. 

 

Falling foul of the referee

 

Oakham were also repeatedly falling foul of the referee, finally conceding a kickable penalty which Newark accepted to level the score 20-20.  Oakham attempted to win the game late on and nearly pulled it off with a long-range penalty from Crellin against the wind which fell just under the crossbar.  The score remained tied at 20-20 as the full-time whistle was blown.

 

In the first period of extra time Newark began taking control with Oakham now conceding  a series of penalties as they desperately defended the  Newark attacks .  Newark used the penalties to work their way to within ten metres of the Oakham line and from the line-out set up a driving maul to shunt Oakham over the line. The try was converted to give Newark the lead for the first time 20-27.

 

  Oakham tried desperately to get back on level terms but were unable to break the Newark defence. Oakham’s chance finally went as they were reduced to 14 men with a late sin bin, the game ending with Newark running out extra time winners.

 


Published: 22/09/2017





 
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