Avon Rugby 20-19 Newent
Western Counties North
By Steve Bird
Avon were devastated to lose by a single point against one of the top two placed teams; for the second time this month. Newent scraped home by 20-19 in a closely contested match Western Counties match. It was played front of a large crowd of former players on a heavy pitch from the recent rain. Avon were left regretting a basic mistake that gifted their visitors from the Forest of Dean a crucial try that ultimately decided the result; forcing them to settle for another losing bonus point.
Starting like an express train Newent dominated possession and territory for the first 10 minutes and showing why they had only lost 1 game all season. Yet Avon’s defence proved defiant in repelling this fierce onslaught and restricted Newent to a single penalty before responding strongly in the second quarter.
Avon started to gain a reasonable share of possession, their forwards took the game to the opposition and created the position for a penalty attempt that narrowly drifted wide of the posts. Then, after a lineout drive was held up just short of the line, Avon launched a massive surge from the scrum and were rewarded with a penalty try, converted by Rob Fitch to take the lead.
Newent closed the gap with another penalty before Avon again tested the visitors down the blindside through Nick Tribe and Ben Dilloway. This created the position for Avon to mount another period of pressure as their pack sucked the defence infield, leaving Fitch to exploit the exposed narrow side for a try in the corner. Deep into injury time at the interval, Newent got away with a wheeled scrum inside the Avon 22 and, with the defensive back row out of the equation, nipped down the flank for a converted try to give them a 13-12 lead at half time.
Ten minutes after the break, Avon mis-fielded a relieving defensive kick and compounded the error with an aimless fly hack into midfield which sat up neatly for Newent to add a second converted try. The 18 year old referee struggled to understand some of the dark arts going on up front, the game threatened to boil over on several occasions with an underlying niggle spoiling any fluent play before Zak Harwood made a scintillating burst through the middle. Jake Dixon was then held up from a clever cross field kick, Avon were awarded a scrum 5 metres out and there was only one outcome as skipper Kai Harwood controlled an awkward ball for a trademark try.
Fitch managed to add the extras, it was suddenly a one point game and Avon’s pack earned another penalty with a massive scrum on the 10 metre line. This gave Fitch the opportunity to clinch the deserved win, only for his kick to rebound back from the crossbar before being cleared by the relieved visitors!
Avon 2nds maintained their unbeaten record at the top of Somerset 3 North with a comfortable 28-6 win over Midsomer Norton 3rds.