SHIELDS made the short trip to Sutherland Park in Benton for this match against local rivals Novos.
With a good win against Seaham last weekend, Shields went into the game with renewed confidence for what was promising to be a well fought game against a team looking to gain promotion straight back into division one.
Shields made a couple of changes for the game, with Dave Hardy and Richard Carr replacing the injured Chris Allot and James Bland respectively. Then with Dale Jones picking up an injury in the warm-up, Dom Casey stepped on the wing.
From the kick-off two things became apparent, Shields had the stronger pack while Novos had a lot more pace in the backline.
Most early scrums saw Novos on the back foot but when their backs did get the ball, they used it well and attacked with pace from all areas of the pitch.
The first try of the day came when the Shields forwards failed to secure the ball at a ruck and Novos span the ball wide to their strong full back who escaped a couple of tackles to score under the posts.
Shields also gave away a couple of penalties which Novos scored.
Shields got back into the game with a try of their own soon after. After sustained pressure from the forwards a penalty was awarded for constant Novos infringement at the breakdowns. Fly-half Gav Duffy kicked into the corner and from the lineout, Shields powered the catch and drive over the try line, with captain Mark Hall emerging with the ball. This was a strong element of Shields’ game which they used well during the match.
However, Hall had to leave the field soon after when he received a blow to the head. Youngster Cai Payne-Tate replacing him in the pack.
Novos attacked straight from the kick off and after a few phases of play, one of their back row found a gap in the Shields line and was through on the try line.
He seemed to be starting to celebrate his forthcoming score when he was brilliantly chased down and hauled to the floor by full back Pete Finlay with the tackle of the game.
Shields managed to clear the ball into touch when the Novos player was penalised for failing to release the ball. Novos did manage to score another try soon after, following more good play from their backs.
At half-time the scores were still close.
In the second half the game followed pretty much the same pattern.
The Shields forwards continued to dominate up front and keep the ball, while the Novos backs never missed a chance to run the ball straight back when they got it.
Novos were still infringing at the breakdowns and finally saw themselves reduced to 14 men after another attempt the kill the ball with Shields attacking from five metres out.
Shields were unable to take advantage and score during this ten-minute period and indeed Novos added to their own try tally for the day, with a breakaway try from the backs from deep in their own half.
With Hall now recovered on the sideline, he returned to the pitch to add some more weight to the Shields attack.
With another excellent passage of play from the forwards which saw them encamped in the Novos 22, hooker Ben Dalton broke from the back of the ruck to score a well deserved try.
Shields were really taking the game to Novos until they were also reduced to 14 men. When the Novos centre threw the ball off the back of a Shields player’s head, Dalton was sin binned for getting involved. The referee decided not to take any action against Novos and awarded the penalty to them too.
From the resulting passage of play, a crossing offence was also missed as Novos attacked the try line and the try was allowed to stand. Final score 32-12 to Novos.
Shields were by no means outplayed in this game and can take many positives from it.
Man of the match for the day was centre John Good, his strong running and tackling in particular very impressive. Mention must also go to youngster Payne-Tate, who is proving himself to be quite a talent and a fearless tackler.
Next week Shields entertain table-topping Redcar at Preston Playing fields. Kick off 2.15pm.
North Shields RFC is always looking to welcome new players to the club, young or old, experienced or novice.
If you’re interested in coming along to play, training sessions are at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or you can contact the club on (0191) 257 7352, or via the website, www.northshieldsrfc.co.uk