Regional 2 Tribute Severn
Newent triumphed over their first-time visitors to the Rec with a resilient performance in a game strongly influenced by the weather, reports Simon Barker.
The match started in bright sunshine, but in the second half the blustery wind blew in torrential rain, and the gane at the aptly-named Watery Lane finished in monsoon conditions which made ball handling a lottery.
Playing with the wind at their backs, Frome dominated territory and possession for much of the first half.
So it was against the run of play when Newent took the lead with a strong contender for try of the season.
From a scrum in the home 22, No 8 Ben Vincent broke down the blindside and fed Fin Mellis.
The right wing made good ground before finding support inside and swift handling via loose forwards and backs ended with outside centre Will Hartland touching down close to the posts for a 5-0 lead.
With the game nearing the end of its first quarter, Frome’s pressure finally told when lively openside Sam Bartlett crossed for the equalising try from a quick tap penalty.
Mellis was yellow carded for not retreating from the penalty and soon he was joined on the naughty step by Jack Devries.
The remaining 13 men did very well to prevent the visitors from adding to their score, as the Frome pack picked and drove over the line but were held up.
But late in the half before Frome converted pressure into more points, when a strong carry from their No 8 and captain Alex Mallon was stopped by a brave tackle from full back Jake Ivell, but the ball was recycled quickly for Mallon to pop up again to cross wide on the right.
A fine conversion put the visitors ahead 12-5.
At this point in the game it was over half an hour since the Green Army had seen action in their opponents’ territory, so it was important that they regained some of the initiative before half-time. When Frome were penalised 30m out, Fred Nottingham opted for a shot at goal but Tom Webb’s attempt was off target.
But he had a second opportunity moments later, after Frome’s drop-out was run back by Vincent and Hartland, and converted to make it 12-8.
The decisive passages of the game were in its third quarter, which were controlled by Newent.
The home pack got the nudge on their opponents at scrum time, so that when Frome were penalised in the shadow of their own posts Nottingham opted for a scrummage rather than taking the easy three points on offer.
His judgement proved correct as Vincent picked up from the base of the advancing scrum and stretched out to touch down beneath the posts. Webb added the extras and Newent were back in front 15-12.
A superb 50:22 kick from Webb then gave Newent their next attacking opportunity.
After the initial drive from the lineout the ball was spun wide and Nathan Brooks nearly squeezed in at the left hand corner before Frome were penalised at the ruck.
Again Nottingham opted for the scrum, which Frome collapsed as the pack nudged forward.
And with a piece of quick thinking, Webb tapped the penalty and touched down before the defence could organise.
He then added a fine conversion and Newent led 22-12.
Shortly afterwards the heavens opened and the final quarter was played in conditions which became increasingly difficult, especially for the visitors who were playing into the wind and rain.
Jake Ivell did well to get to a grubber kick first before sliding into touch close to his try line, and the Newent pack then halted the Frome drive from the lineout before referee James Brown responded to the prayers of players and spectators alike to blow for the end of the match.
The Green Army’s 1st XV travel to Thornbury this Saturday (January 14) while Newent Phoenix visit Greyhound.
Meanwhile, Ross RFC suffered a miserable start to 2023, going down to a 64-0 loss away to Hucclecote, played at Oxstalls owing to waterlogged pitch.
They will be hoping to bounce back at home to Spartans this Saturday (January 14).