Nuneaton 13 - 16 Old Halesonians

Last Updated: Sep 7, 2015 08:33pm
Hagley, Bromsgrove
By Mark Jackson
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Nuneaton 13 Old Halesonians 26


for the start of a new season in Midlands National three league. Preparation  had not been perfect in terms of preseason games but Hales were in quiet confident mood


The scene was set 

The perfect Nuneaton stadium pitch was to provide a great setting to the afternoon. Nuneaton were also looking confident having taken the spoils  last season both home and away. 


They were seen as favourites on that basis but the Hales players and coaches had other ideas. Head Coach Ben Hughes , backs coach Ben Barkley and DOR Gary Cox set the scene in the changing room. The game started with Hales immediately on the front foot with driving runs and solid defence.


Skipper Rich Taylor led from the front with direct running supported by Tom Jordan, Pete Fitzgerald, Loz Breese and debutant back row player Max McFarlane. After only 3 minutes Hales were penalised, converted by Nuns for a  3 - 0 lead. 


The visitors came back immediately, scrum half, Dave Hadkiss orchestrating things from the base. After 5 minutes Hales forced a penalty which full back Chris Hooper converted to draw level 3 - 3. The Hales backs started to dominate with Ben Barkley at 10 distributing well with the Robinson brothers, Carl and Andy seemingly back to their potent selves in both attack and defence.


Wings Joe Oxford and Luke Smith were on fire, both making good yards. After 9 minutes the visiting pack produced good ball, fed to Barkley, to Carl Robinson to Smith on the wing, he out sprinted his opposite man to score in the corner for an unconverted try to lead 3 - 8.


From this point both sides had positive spells and were evenly matched but Hales started to dominate in all areas, the backs in particular always looking dangerous. Fears that the Nuneaton pack would dominate were unfounded as the Hales front row of Matt Young, Pete Fitzgerald and Rich Taylor went to town on the opposition.


On 25 minutes a line out for Hales on the home 22 saw second row Tom King take the ball and set a driving maul with the Hales pack dominating, Loz Breese secured the ball to drive over the line for a well worked try to lead 3 - 13.


Nuneaton came back into the game for a short period and spent time in the Hales 22. The visitors defended well but lost flanker Jordan to a yellow card for collapsing a maul. The visitors capitalised on the pressure and on 36 minutes scored a well-deserved try, converted 10 - 13 at half time.


Hales remained focussed and came out in the second half, again in command. 

Early pressure by the visitors, led by man of the match McFarlane, forced another penalty at 45 minutes which Hooper converted 10 - 16. Nuns responded with pressure and were awarded a penalty which they converted 13 - 16.


For the next 10 minutes the visiting backs again were dominant with Oxford, Hooper and  Barkley and the Robbos making telling runs. Hadkiss left the field with a rib injury, Hooper went to 9 and Andy Holloway came in at full back. Hooper gathered the ball and made a break, evaded tackles and fed to Barkley who stormed over for a great try, he first got the club, for a lead of 13 - 21.


This was a telling score, Hales were dominating in all areas. On 66 minutes the visiting pack again secured ball, Hadkiss, now back on the field, fed Barkley, through the Robinson brothers to Hooper. He sprinted into a gap and passed to Oxford on the wing.


Oxford, as usual, ran direct into the opposition, leaving two defenders reeling, he slipped the ball inside to the supporting Hooper who sprinted 30 metres for the try of the game, Hales leading 13 - 26. 


This knocked the stuffing out of the opposition. Replacements Hales came on, James Sadler for Jordan, Tom Dempsey for Young, the Nuns pack now going backwards at a faster rate, the momentum continued,


At the final whistle Hales were worthy winners, a great team effort and a positive start to the season. Hales first team travel to Syston on 12 September for their next league fixture, kick off 3 pm.


I have attached the 2nd team report for this weekend and a brief summary of the 3rd team draw against Wednesbury. The text is also provided below.

Old Halesonians 2nds 33pts  Nuneaton 2nds  20pts

Old Hales started the new season and their league campaign with a well-deserved victory.

The first half was a closely fought, regularly punctuated with penalty awards. Nuneaton took the lead with a penalty after only 3 minutes; however, Old Hales replied almost immediately when Sam Vaughan knocked over a long range penalty from 45 metres.

Shortly after, Old Hales infringed at a ruck and Nuneaton were awarded a penalty 40 metres out; the Nuneaton full back confidently converted the penalty to take the lead.

Old Hales fought back and from a driving maul Callum Young made a decisive break and was well supported by the ever present Tom Lewis and Jake Harley-Yeadon who carried the ball forward. Following the breakdown, Nuneaton were penalised for entering the ruck from the side and Sam Vaughan duly added the penalty to make the score 6-6.

The home side was now settling into a good rhythm with their scum and lineout working well and providing a good platform for the backs. From another maul, talented youngster Alex Gordon made a good break and released wing Jake Shellis. When the move broke down, the referee brought play back for an earlier infringement by Nuneaton at the maul. Once again Sam Vaughan converted the penalty kick from long range.

At half time the score was 9-6 to Old Halesonians.

Old Hales started the second half on the front foot and after only 3 minutes a strong scum provided good ball on the halfway line. The ball was moved to the left and a beautifully flighted ball from Matt Williams was taken at full pace by Jack Keeling. Keeling made good ground and then released Shellis at speed to round the Nuneaton defence to score close to the posts. Vaughan converted to make the score 16-6 to Old Hales.

Nuneaton came back when their elusive fullback made the most of a number of missed tackles and made his way deep into the Old Hales 22. Nuneaton quickly recycled the ball and scored a converted try.

From the kick off Old Hales attacked down the left  and forced the visitor’s to give away a penalty that Vaughan slotted over from wide out on the left for a score of 19-13.

Old Hales went further ahead after 16 minutes of the second half;  Hales won a scrum 45 metres out and flyhalf Tom Harris gave a lovely flat pass to Jon Harris who’s timely run split the Nuneaton defence. Jon Harris was tackled just short of the try line and from the ruck, brother Tom was there to feed No.8 Alex Gordon to score from close range. Vaughan added the conversion to maintain his 100% kicking record.

There then followed a disruptive 10 minutes of play; first Matt Williams received a yellow card when he was deemed guilty of illegally taking out a Nuneaton player. A Nuneaton player also left the field for 10 minutes when he received a yellow card. Then, following an on the floor scuffle between Sam Vaughan and the Nuneaton No. 8, the referee surprisingly gave both players red cards and they both left the field.

The game settled down and pressure from Old Hales forced Nuneaton to touch down behind their own line. A long drop out from Nuneaton was collected by wing Jay Reid in his own half. Reid quickly got into his stride and took a direct route to the try line brushing off three tackles on his way to score a fine try under the posts. Tom Harris converted to make the score 33-13.

With the last play of the game Nuneaton made their way to the try line to score a converted try to make the final score 33-20 to Old Halesonians.

Tries: Jake Shellis, Alex Gordon, James Reid
Conversions: Sam Vaughan (2), Tom Harris
Penalties: Sam Vaughan (4)
Wednesbury 2nds  14pts   Old Halesonians 3rds 14pts  

Old Hales 3rds travelled to Wednesbury for a re-arranged friendly fixture after Worcester 3rds cried off the planned League game.

It was reported that Old Hales took on a mixed 1st and 2nd team squad from Wednesbury in a competitive game that Hales could have easily won. Special mention was made for the contribution of the younger players in the squad, the try scorers George Eccles and Phil Jukes and in particular the performances of Connor Snellus and Scott Rudge.

Tries: George Eccles, Phil Jukes
Conversions: Matt Wagstaff (2)


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