Rugby: Saints pass physical test

Joe Woodgate battles through. Picture: Rachel Cameron

Joe Woodgate battles through. Picture: Rachel Cameron - Credit: Archant

St Neots Saints 45 Old Newtonians 10

St Neots Saints came through a very physical encounter with Old Newtonians, in a match that saw the Leicester club have a player sent off in the second half for serious foul play with a late and dangerous tackle on Saints playmaker Joe Woodgate.

From the off it was apparent that the Old Newtonians team were going to try and intimidate Saints with forward based, physical tactics, but they came up against a well disciplined Saints pack that refused to give ground and refused to be sucked into a scrappy contest that appeared to be Old Newtonians gameplan.

The Saints forwards took the game straight to Old Newts early on.

Continued possession in the ON’s half finally paid off when good ball from the forwards gave fly-half Woodgate the chance to find winger Luke Warburton, cutting a typical line back across the defence, and his strong run breached the line and he had a clear run in to score under the posts.

ONs pinned Saints back in their own half for a long period, but resolute defence from Cameron Howson and Dec McGuire held them back. When Rhod Howcroft managed to steal the ball at a ruck inside the Saints half, he passed the ball to Adam Peel and the new signing showed he would be a valuable asset, by running at the ON defence, spotting a gap, and accelerat-ing through to go around the full back and scored from 60 metres out.

Locks Matt Ellwood and Rhod Howcroft created the next scoring opportunity with their strong, straight running, with Ellwood crossing the gainline, finding Howcroft in support and when he was finally held up inside the opposing 22 he off-loaded to Ed Strand, who finished off the move in the corner. ONs went over with the last play of the half to make it 21-5 to Saints at the break.

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Soon after the kick-off Saints forwards won the opposition’s lineout and the pack drove to the line with scrum-half Matt Cartwright control-ling the maul and diving over to score.

ONs came back with a score from their No 8 peeling away from a scrum, but their way back into the match did not last long. When ONs fumbled inside the Saints half, Warburton managed to pick up the ball, sprint through a gap and race away and with only the full-back to beat, a strong hand-off saw the defender on his back-side and Warburton ran in his second try.

ONs discipline fell away, leading to numerous warnings from the referee and eventually a yellow and red card.

Howson managed to turn ball over at the breakdown and passed out to Adam Peel. He threw a long pass out to full-back Dan Glover, who had joined the back line to create the over-lap and when Glover passed to Strand the centre was able to shrug off a two tack-lers to score his second.

Lewis Hall capped a fine game pick-ing up at the base of a scrum, and running at the ONs to power over.

Skipper Phil Sandling said: “Forty-five points may appear a good score, but had we tightened a few things up, it really could have been a lot more.

“Old Newtonians were a tough, physical side and the lads did well to stick to our gameplan. We are expect-ing a lot from our performances and it shows how high we’ve set our stand-ards, that we were not entirely happy with our performance. There is still much more to come from this squad.”