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Leaders Newent hit back in second-half for triumph
12:31pm Friday 14th February 2014 in Rugby
NEWENT Rugby Club overturned a 12-0 half-time deficit thanks to a commanding performance from their pack in a 20-12 Gloucester Premier Division win at Stroud.
On another stormy afternoon when the weather exerted a huge influence on the match, Newent struggled to repeat their convincing win from earlier in the season.
Stroud’s impressive home record marked the match as a potential banana skin for the leaders, particularly considering the absence of key players and the impact of a gale-force wind and accompanying rain on a heavy pitch.
With the gale behind them, Stroud dominated territory in the first-half, forcing Newent to defend for long periods.
The hosts took the lead through Harry Phillips after winger Brett Gardner just failed to intercept a long pass.
Stroud scored a second try just past the half-hour mark when Newent were caught offside on their 22-metre line.
They opted for a kick to the corner and, from the resulting line-out, executed a textbook rolling maul to crash over the line with fly-half Dan Gordon converting.
After several half-breaks from Joe Goatley, Newent gained the upper hand in the scrum and a strike against the head by Luke Williams provided an attacking platform.
But they could not capitalise and inside-centre Ross Webb was sin-binned before half-time after being caught offside.
Newent's scrum dominance continued and allowed Goatley to put Newent on the scoreboard with an 18-metre penalty.
Greg Tovey and Chris Steward were introduced as front-row replacements and helped win another scrum penalty.
Gardner spilled Goatley's cross-kick but the pack shoved Stroud back and John Duffin was quickest to touch down a converted effort.
The scrums became uncontested after an injury for the hosts but Dom Matthews fed influential number eight Duffin to put Newent ahead for the first time with just 10 minutes left.
Goatley's vision conjured a third try as he spotted Gardner in space on the right and this time the winger made no mistake, depriving Stroud of a losing bonus point.
Newent were worthy winners for their patience and self-belief in executing a game-plan adapted to the circumstances.
They built on the technical excellence of their pack but a skilful and committed Stroud side pushed them hard in tough conditions.
Newent host Frampton Cotterell tomorrow (2.30pm).