Match Report: Eastern Counties Senior Men v Northumberland Senior Men

Tuesday 21 May 2019

  • Nland Seniors
  • Nland Seniors
  • Nland Seniors
  • Nland Seniors
  • Nland Seniors
  • Nland Seniors
  • Seniors v EC


Saturday 18th May 2019 at Bury St.Edmunds RFC, Suffolk

Northumberland Men’s second match of the afternoon was their final game in this season’s Bill Beaumont County Championship. With the Centurions side having demonstrated forward power against the Eastern Counties’ Wanderers side it was up to the Senior Championship team to follow their lead. It has to be said that in a closely competed encounter the Northumberland forwards more than emulated their fellow Northumbrians.

Early pressure from Eastern Counties was easily dealt with by Northumberland through good play from winger James Bird’s clearance downfield. This led to an attacking scrum on the home team’s 22 where the Northumberland pack drove through their counterparts to set up a try for Bird, which he then converted to give his team a seven point lead after six minutes. From the kick-off, some loose play by Northumberland allowed Eastern Counties to move into their 22 and earn a scrum. The Northumberland pack again drove through their opponents, leading them to stand up and break off. Strangely, no penalty and this scenario occurred at least twice more before the half-time break. However, Counties managed to move the ball left for a try converted by fly-half Ben Penfold to bring the scores level after eleven minutes.

As the game progressed, so did a familiar pattern. Strong scrummaging from Northumberland followed by loose passing giving possession back to Eastern Counties allowing them to ease the pressure. In the eighteenth minute though a good lineout from Northumberland led to a forward drive that resulted in a try for centre Alex Clark (again converted by Bird) to restore Northumberland’s seven point lead. Certainly, for that first twenty minutes Northumberland looked to be well in control but there was still some worryingly loose play. Then all of a sudden we had a spate of Eastern Counties attacks stemming from more loose play by Northumberland. A deliberate knock-on by flanker Rob Lenderyou resulted in a yellow card for him in the twenty-fifth minute. Northumberland responded by maintaining possession and territory for the next nine minutes but a break by full back Matt Hema set up a try for winger Sam Yawayawa. Penfold completed the Cambridge RFC connections in this move with a successful conversion to bring the scores level after 35 minutes. Northumberland’s reaction was some direct running lines resulting in a try for captain Keith Laughlin in the 40th minute to see Northumberland in the lead by five points at half time.

During the break, the Northumberland coach, Darren Cunningham, had an interesting conversation with the referee regarding the officiating of the scrum. To quote the referee, “You were really unlucky because the ball came out.” Just what he meant, no-one could quite fathom out!

The second half opened with the worst possible start for Northumberland as again they lost possession to enable Eastern Counties to score a converted try within two minutes. Soon after though, handling in the ruck from a home forward gave James Bird the opportunity of a kick at goal from 30 metres which he duly struck to put Northumberland a point ahead. This to-and-fro play continued for the first ten minutes of the second half with an eventual penalty to Eastern Counties on their opponent’s 5 metre line. A scrum was opted for with their forwards managing to score and Penfold again converting to establish a 28-22 lead.

Northumberland responded once again very positively with possession close to the home team’s try line. This resulted in a series of penalties against Eastern Counties, but still no yellow card nor any penalty try. It is hard to reconcile a yellow card given against Northumberland for an offence 30 metres from the try line yet none given for deliberate offences by the opposition right on the try line.

As we approached the hour mark we had yet more penalties against Eastern Counties and a quick check of the notes revealed that the home team had conceded seven offences in that twenty minute period to Northumberland’s one. However, Northumberland were not able to capitalise nor gain any sustained possession. What possession they did have was confined to their own half. Eventually Northumberland gave away a penalty 30 metres out but Penfold was unsuccessful with his kick. Into the last ten minutes with Northumberland back inside the opposition’s 22 and securing possession from a lineout. The driving maul appeared to be pulled down twice by Eastern Counties but the referee deemed the maul held up by Northumberland with defending players lying on the ground. However, Northumberland came back and second row Ed Bloodworth scored to bring Northumberland within a point. Unfortunately Bird missed with his conversion attempt and from the kick-off Eastern Counties went long, secured a penalty for not releasing in the tackle and it was all over. 

Northumberland can reflect on a more than admirable performance and with perhaps more sympathetic refereeing would have seen their 500 odd mile return journey rewarded with more than a losing bonus point.


Posted in: CB Updates, County Seniors