NEWENT are through to the South West final of the RFU Senior Vase after another impressive show.
Once again the bedrock of Newent’s performance was their pack’s dominance of the scrum which, combined with an equal superiority at the breakdown, provided a wealth of quality possession for their backs to enjoy.
No one enjoyed it more than Joe Goatley, restored at fly-half for his first appearance since being injured at Bristol Saracens in the previous round of the cup and making up for lost time with a commanding performance.
Brett Gardner’s long clearance from the kick-off gave Newent immediate field position in Stothert’s 22 and their initial pressure was rewarded when the visitors won a penalised at a ruck and Goatley landed a difficult kick from the 10-metre line.
The opening try followed shortly afterwards. From the platform of an advancing scrum on the visitors’ 10-metre line Newent moved the ball crisply along the backs to Richard Merrett.
The full-back looked to be squeezed into the right hand touchline but his exquisite inside path out of the back of his hand found Brett Gardner hitting the line at pace and the right wing finished the move with his customary style.
When the visitors conceded a free kick for feeding at a scrum on their 22, John Duffin took the tap and made good ground before Chris Steward made further dents in the opposition defence. Quick ball went blind to Goatley, who brushed aside a would be tackler to finish in the left-hand corner.
Newent’s skipper Tristan Veale fielded the restart and set up a ruck from which James Dean’s long kick put pressure straight back onto the visitors. Their hurried clearance failed to find touch thanks to an athletic leap from Veale, who tapped the ball back into the hands of Goatley. The fly-half punched a huge hole in the visitors’ defence before releasing Brett Gardner for another unstoppable run to the line.
Goatley’s conversion attempt was successful on this occasion, giving Newent a 20-0 lead with less than 20 minutes played.
Goatley slotted a penalty to extend their lead to 23-0 with half an hour played.
From the restart Newent’s loosehead Morgan Morris was penalised for going off his feet at a ruck and shown a yellow card. Soon afterwards he was joined on the touchline by fellow prop Chris Steward who was yellow-carded for attempting a tackle while on the ground. Matt Henry took the field as a replacement prop and Lee Warren moved from the back row to the front.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Newent extended their lead shortly before half-time. Goatley’s dart from a scrum 15-metre out was stopped just short but quick ruck ball was fed to Ross Webb who crossed wide out to give Newent a 28-0 half-time lead.
The second half was 10 minutes old before Newent extended their lead. A break from inside centre Ross Webb created another opportunity for Brett Gardner but for once the winger couldn’t finish as he lost control of the ball in diving over the line.
No matter, Newent’s pack pressured the visitors into conceding a penalty at the resultant scrum and Chris Steward crashed over from the tap and go.
Goatley ran back the restart to create more pressure. Dan Bubb-Sacklyn and Dominic Matthews were tackled into touch just short of the line on the left and right wings respectively before Newent’s shove created havoc to yet another visitors’ scrum.
Lee Warren was quickest to the loose ball to claim a simple touchdown, taking Newent’s lead to 38-0 entering the game’s final quarter.
Another scything break by Goatley set up a series of phases which ended with the irrepressible George Phelps shaking off any number of defenders to touch down for Newent’s seventh try. This time Goatley nailed the conversion attempt.
Tries eight and nine both resulted from turnovers. Goatley was the beneficiary of the first turnover, touching down in acres of space wide out to the left, and with the last play of the game brother Barney sprinted in behind the posts after being fed by Lee Warren. Charlie Gellert added the extras.