SOUTH WEST PREMIER
Bournemouth 51 – Newton Abbot 47
Newton Abbot “All Whites” went to Bournemouth for what was effectively the decider for the right to be in the end of season promotion play-off.
The home side were already in second behind Dings and only needed a win; Newton, having lost four in a row (but nevertheless still in fourth) have found the going tough recently; and things took a turn for the worst when the Bournemouth half backs, Sam Hardcastle and Grant Hancox, banked a seven pointer after only three minutes.
Newton responded immediately and a fascinating, 14-try thriller, unfolded in front of a large home crowd with the outcome in the balance until the final whistle.
Flanker Onehunga Kaufusi and winger Jonny Brown
combined to put centre Josh Smith
in for an unconverted lead.
Hancox, who had missed a first minute penalty before converting Hardcastle’s opening score, then put over a twelfth minute penalty for a 10-5 lead which lasted all of a minute.
Bournemouth made a mess of receiving the restart and from the ensuing scrum Newton ran a three-quarter move that saw Brown go close before No. 8 Jarryd Harris
put recycled ball to good use with an under the posts try.
converted for a 12-10 lead which was also short-lived. Newton returned the restart with interest but Bournemouth counter-attacked from deep to put winger Dan Stewart in for a Hancox converted try. Hancox was soon back on target with his second penalty for a 22-12 lead.
Newton then scored back to back tries to lead 26-20 with half time fast approaching. Bournemouth failed to exit from their “22” and when Newton turned the ball over it was quickly moved far right where full back Will Castleton
crossed on the overlap.
A straight forward penalty was then turned down in favour of a more adventurous approach. A quick tap was taken on by the forwards. Smith then twisted and turned past a handful of defenders before prop Tom White
finished off from short range. Avery-Wright converted both and Newton looked to be taking a six point lead into the break.
The home side, however, had other ideas as they finished the half as they started with another Hardcastle/Hancox double act.
Newton hit back straight from the kick-off of the second spell. Smith once again making the hard yards before Kyle Browne
dotted down and Avery-Wright added the extras.
Twelve points in the space of six frantic minutes by Bournemouth put the Dorset based side back in front again. Flanker Alex Bennett was followed over by centre Fred Gleadowe with Hancox adding a conversion.
Newton responded with fourteen points in eleven action packed minutes. Bournemouth’s untidiness at drop-out time was punished by Newton with replacement flanker Chris Courtier
charging through the home defence to allow fellow back rower Kaufusi to score. Castleton went in for his second – again wide play creating an overlap.
Avery-Wright banged over the extras to put his side 47-38 up with only ten minutes remaining, but two home tries in this closing spell booked Bournemouth’s play-off spot.
Centre Scott Chislett and lock Jack Hennings each ran in from 22 metres, Hancox could only convert one, leaving Newton needing a try in time added on to snatch victory.
The “All Whites” dominated the four minutes available and appeared to have created an opportunity. However a wayward pass failed to get to Browne who would have more than fancied his chances in a one on one scenario from 20 metres.
The ball missed Browne and went into touch and the referee signalled the end of an enthralling game.
In spite of losing, the “All Whites” players can rightly hold their heads high after a memorable performance in a high octane game that was a great advert for South West Premier rugby.
The two points achieved by Newton was good enough to put them ahead of Maidenhead into third place, a spot the “All Whites” will be keen to hold onto over the closing weeks of the season.
On Saturday, Bracknell are the visitors to Rackerhayes, KO 2.30pm, and Newbury conclude the season when they are the travellers the following weekend.