Manor Park 2nd 3 – 35 Atherstone 2nd

Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014 03:45pm
Atherstone, North Warwickshire
By Julie Douglas
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In the absence of Second team Captain Matt Kent, who is recovering from a broken ankle, Vice-Captain Mike Smith had the honour of leading his side to victory against his former club less than twelve months after suffering a broken femur.  Smith would be forgiven for being tentative about his return to rugby however he has shown that he has lost none of his confidence or tenacity as he lead by example.  Having had a number of cry-offs, mainly due to injury, leading into the game, Kent had no option but to select all players at his disposal to ensure the match went ahead.  

Coach Nick Cameron, who has made it clear that every player has an opportunity to be selected for first team fixtures based on their performance in training and in matches, kept a keen eye on the game and said after the match

‘It was a great win and it showed we are starting to build a bit of strength in depth. I was particularly pleased to see some of those lads who haven't been involved in the first couple of 1st team match day squads really putting in solid performances and looking to put pressure on those who have their spot!’

Park opened the scoring early in the match with an opportunistic drop goal from Jon Marsh.  The Men in Black had the opportunity to take the lead after a high tackle on Lee Amos saw his side take a quick penalty which was carried over the line by Tom Aherne for an unconverted try.  The visitors added to their score as Smith at Number 8 picked up from the back of the scrum, made good ground and off loaded to Richy Jenkins who powered over the line to score his first try for the club in his debut match.  The score remained at 3-10 for the rest of the half.

Early in the second half James Redman ghosted passed the opposition to score an unconverted try as Atherstone began to pile on the pressure.  On the wing Steve Parker showed an excellent turn of pace and ferocious tackling putting in an excellent performance both in defence and attack.  He was unlucky on numerous occasions not to have converted his pressure into points but assisted in Atherstone’s fourth try providing Dean Guy with the opportunity to crash over for another unconverted try.

The Ratcliffe Road outfit’s fifth try saw Aherne make a break towards the tryline looking round for an offload.  Mike Thomas was on hand to collect.  Thomas was magnanimous in passing the ball to Smith to allow him to touch down for the unconverted try. Another newcomer to the club Matt Ward was on hand to finish an excellent passage of play to score his first try which again went unconverted.

Although the club are under no illusions about the season ahead with the first team facing tough opposition in their league campaign, this excellent team performance from a well-drilled squad showed that the players are beginning to reap the benefits of the new approach to coaching and selection.