Newmarket 29 v Warriors 12

UntitledThis clash between 4th and 5th ranked clubs in EC had all the hallmarks of a tough battle. Woodbridge one point ahead after a good run this year but having never won at Newmarket in recent history. The hosts started fast with forwards showing early dominance at the scrum but Woodbridge gained territory with the boot of No10 JP Hart. Despite a patchy line-out Woodbridge forced a knock on and Jono Cooke’s charge from the back of the scrum gave them a penalty for not releasing and Jamie Smith kicked 3 points. The kicking game continued, both sides probing the others defence. Penalties continued for both sides adding a lottery element to possession but attacks built, Scrum halves Max Bell for Newmarket and Adam Plummer distributing busily to try and get their backs into play. Woodbridge pounded the home 22, flankers Nick Woodley and Dan Bond leading the charge backed by Herb Parsley and Tim Johnson. Another penalty won gave Smith another 3 points a solid looking start for the Warriors.

Newmarket started to spread the ball wider bringing in wingers Ben Phipps and Simon Guigenault which stretched the defence but poor handling frustrated the attack, Hart finding the clearance. Woodbridge continued to turn defence into attack with wing Taff Lloyd with the kick-chase but the home team was relentless and won a penalty in the Warrior 22 to see No6 Sam Hillary push over for a try after which an altercation saw Cooke leave and Woodbridge facing the next 50 mins with 14 players. Five minutes later Newmarket employed the same line-out, maul combination to draw in defence and spring Guigenault wide right to score again.

Woodbridge restarted with a kick deep into their 22 only for the favour to be returned as the aerial warfare continued both sides aware of the 6 point difference which was reduced to 3 when Smith kicked another penalty. Bell and his No10 Michael Reeves coordinated repeated forays against a hard-working Warrior defence where Captain Tom Stokes lead by example putting in several hard stops especially against Newmarket second row Tom Peacock and Daniele Terenzi. A penalty allowed Reeves to claw back 3 points. The penalty count continued to rise with a yellow for Newmarket levelling the numbers for 10 minutes as Smith kicked his fourth penalty and the score hit 15-12 with the last quarter to play.

Newmarket rallied behind their forwards who mounted a prolonged assault on the visitor’s line where after serial penalties flanker Hillary scored his second as tempers frayed. Woodbridge maintained pressure; Stokes, Woodley, Johnson and some monster touch kicks from Hart exploited occasional gaps centre-field. But they were frustrated by some iffy set pieces, sharp defence and a yellow card. Against such odds it was no surprise when Reeves ran in the last try to seal the hard fought win.

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