It was a game of two halves in Heaton, as Leeds Beckett left the victors after facing off against our Men’s 3rds.
Newcastle in sky blue started brightly, bringing great energy and focus in the first half. The link up play between the backs and forwards was fantastic, which was the real difference between the two sides. No.8, Eddie Goss alongside fly half and Courier Sport’s Personality of the Year nominee Jack Pennell, created chances with some quick-thinking, with instinctive throws to players out wide.
By using the full width of the pitch it allowed the flankers and wingers to fully use their blistering pace to score a number of great tries. Although with the tries being scored near the corner flags, it left tight angles for Pennell to try score the conversions which would prove costly later. Leeds Beckett, kitted out in purple, were reduced to dirty tactics, slyly niggling in an attempt to stall the Toon juggernaut, who at this point of the game were on top and threatened to be out of sight.
Unfortunately Newcastle’s efforts in the first half were for nought as Leeds Beckett took control in an incredibly messy second half. It started badly as the visitors started with a try in the first few minutes. Further lapses in concentration allowed the guys in purple a way back into the match as they scored consecutive tries. On one occasion in a show of brute force they literally bulldozed their way through the Toon’s defence. Similarly they used line outs to great success in spearheading a number of attacks, showing the importance of thinking about tactics when restarting play.
“The link up between the backs and forwards was fantastic”
With the sun beginning to disappear into the clouds, it started to be abundantly clear that any chance of victory for the Newcastle had also disappeared. Leeds Beckett continued their all-out assault. While Newcastle’s defence valiantly stood up to the purple with some fantastic tackles from the likes of No.3 Joe Gutteridge, the momentum had definitely shifted to the visitors.
Nevertheless, Newcastle did rally in the final few minutes of the game. The introduction of some fresh legs like No.22 Joe Burns, definitely helped as they started to offer a threat they had lacked since the end of the first half. Ultimately, however the visitor’s defence stood firm and the damage had already been done. Leeds Beckett were the victors, winning by a margin of 9 points as the game finished at 34-25.
The feeling of the day was clearly summed up by team coach Andy Kennedy who remarked that it “had been a frustrating day at the office”. After a dominant performance in the first half, Newcastle lost their intensity by moving into cruise control mode, which allowed Leeds Beckett a way back into the game. The result means the Toon remain bottom of the Northern 2B league.
However it is not all bad as with players like the No.6 blind-side flanker and man of the match, James Hattersley, plus No.10 Pennell, the team definitely have a great amount of potential. If they can learn to keep focused for the entire game there is still plenty of time for the Men’s 3rds to turn their season around.
POTM: James Hattersley