SOUTH WEST PREMIER
Newton Abbot 27 – Newbury Blues 48
Neither club got what they were looking for in this end of season game with Newbury particularly disappointed, as in spite of winning with a bonus point they were relegated regardless. And the All Whites had to settle for fourth spot, a best ever third was available, after concluding their season with an unprecedented run of seven defeats.
The “All Whites” made the perfect start with a well worked lineout move putting No 8 Jarryd Harris
over for a third minute try. However within five minutes the visitors went in front and stayed there for the duration.
It was the Blues turn to bank a lineout try with flanker Josh Winfield crossing for Michael West to convert for 5-7 lead. Newton claimed the ball back from the restart but a subsequent knock on caused a scrum from which Newbury ran in a try from 60 metres with full-back Josh Bartlett finishing off the move.
A cross kick for Newbury, coupled with a wicked bounce and neat off-load paved the way for Newbury’s third try dotted down by No 8 Alex Miller.
Newton soon hit back, Jake Monnington
intercepted on the half-way line but was tapped tackled with the line at his mercy. However a high tackle in the follow up phases led to a kick to the corner. The initial lineout surge was stopped but captain Dean Avery
dummied in from short range, to leave his side trailing 10-17.
, in his first game since December, then made a break up the middle, Josh Smith
carried the move on and when the ball was moved left from the ruck a try seemed likely. A seven pointer would have levelled but visiting centre Josh Love intercepted ten metres form his own line to set up his co midfielder Dan Thorne for an under the posts try that West converted. What could have been 17 all became 24-10 at a crucial moment in the game.
Just on half time things went from bad to worse for Newton with Newbury following up their bonus point try with a second from Miller that put the Berkshire outfit 10-29 up at the turn.
After the break the visitors were quickly in their stride as try number six was added with replacement forward Rory Jones taking advantage of some weak home tackling to score under the posts for fly-half West to add the extras.
Two tries in the space of five minutes got Newton back in the game as well as adding another bonus point to their tally. Young Centre Cameron Fogden
had a hand in both scores. A long pass put prop Matt Dowrick over the line before a neat half break and a sleight of hand pass enabled flanker Josh Vickridge
In spite of these tries, Newton were still well behind as none of the conversion attempts by the usually accurate Avery-Wright brothers, Ollie and Rob, found their targets. A try for Newton at this stage would have made things interesting, but Newbury via winger James Fletcher went further ahead with another try.
About this time news began to filter through that Exmouth had also built up a bonus point lead - they went on to beat Camborne 59-19 - which meant Newbury’s efforts were in vain. Nonetheless, they went on to claim another try through scrum half Joe Pigott which his half- back partner converted for a 20-48 lead.
Jess concluded the scoring with an injury time try that Rob Avery-Wright
converted with a drop kick but this was definitely a case if too little too late.
In spite of losing their last seven games the All Whites finished a very creditable fourth, which equalled their best ever placing in a very competitive league. However up until Christmas and beyond Newton had been going toe to toe with Dings Crusaders at the top of the table only just losing to the eventual champions 17-14 in January.
The long losing run ruled out promotion and work will have to be done during the summer to get back to winning ways for the new season ahead which promises to be as tough as the one just finished.
There was sympathy for Newbury from both sets of supporters as in spite of winning thirteen games, as many as third placed Maidenhead, they went down along with Hornets and Lydney. If they retain their current squad then Newbury are likely to be back in South West Premier for the start of the 2019/20 season.