NLD 25 Cumbria 41
NLD welcomed Cumbria to Newark’s Kelham Road for their only home game of this year’s County Championships and looked to get their first win after a narrow defeat at Oxfordshire the week before.
Once again the three counties were giving away about 2 playing levels per man and welcomed a few new faces into the squad.
With the debutants and a couple of positional changes NLD took some time to get going and soon found themselves 10-0 down on the scoreboard before getting a foothold in the game. Winger McGrath Vanwyk took a quick tap penalty 5 metres out and barged his way over the line to open the home teams account.
The game evened itself out in terms of possession and territory and although the Cumbrians scored two further tries and a conversion, NLD challenged frequently and scored a second through full back Doug Billam and most people in a decent sized crowd were left wondering why NLD hadn’t received a penalty try when back rower Alan Symcox was almost decapitated by a very high tackle that didn’t even receive a yellow card!
Half time saw the score at 22-10 in favour of the visitors but NLD knew if they could keep the ball and build phases they’d test the Cumbrians defence that had looked vulnerable at times.
The home side couldn’t have made a worse start to the second half with Cumbria scoring immediately off the restart catching NLD napping, a try that took the home side by surprise and could have broken their character but to the NLD lads credit they kept going for the entire second half and whilst Cumbria seamed to always get the bounce of the ball the home side scored 3 further scores seeing a second for Vanwyk and Billam complete his hat trick.
It’s testament to the way NLD are trying to play when all five tries were scored out wide by players in the back three. Sadly this made converting a thankless task and fly half Castledine was close on all 5 attempts but we weren’t able to extend our score at any point. Losing by 16 these 10 points would have made the game much more competitive especially when you add in an interception try and a freak try that Cumbria scored from an NLD steal at the lineout!
In our first season back this is very encouraging for the three counties and we have built a great quad of characters who have all contributed to the team in some way.