Boro marshalled to away victory
The first game of 2016 saw Boro win on their travels
In their first game of 2016 the Boro first XV and associated supporters travelled to Newark, a team and a ground that Boro have historically struggled at. Weather conditions in the morning looked decidedly dicey and icey but as the team travelled North it seemed to thaw out. Boro needed a win to consolidate the form that they had showed pre-Xmas whilst Newark were looking to build some form to take them further away from the bottom 3. This weeks team saw Andy Seaton starting at scrum half and Luke Gardiner on the wing, in the forwards Craig Marshall moved into his favourite position in the second row. On the bench Boro named a trio of youngsters in Mark Bartlem, Dan (serious) Pateman and Reece Parillon.
Its fair to say Boro got off to a flyer, Chris Shipman, as part of his New Years resolution, collected the ball from kick off and fended off a defender before the ball was passed wide for Boro to make quick progress into the Newark half. Newark soon gathered the ball but Boro soon turned over the ball after good work by the forwards. Adam Lambert made inroads into the Newark defence with a strong carry and then after the next ruck Pete Vickers spun the ball wide to back rower Rob Owen who drew the last defender to put Tom Bryan in the corner for the opening try (Newark 0v5 Boro).
Newark were struggling to cope with the Boro attacking play with inside centre Paul Lambert making plenty of yards, however the final offload and pass was proving elusive. With the pack working hard to produce good clean ball for the backline the ball was spun wide to Luke Gardiner to make some progress down the right hand side before the ball was quickly flipped to the left, however, Kieran Checkley's kick ahead was just a little to far for him to gather and score. Some good spoiling play by Andy Seaton at a ruck saw Boro awarded with a penalty shot which was missed by Pete Vickers, however, it wasn't long before we were on the front foot with Paul Lambert smashing through the Newark defence. Another break down the left by Kieran Checkley saw the ball presented to Andy Seaton who fed it to onrushing second row Craig Marshall who broke free to dot the ball down and extend the Boro lead, the try was converted by Pete Vickers (Newark 0v12 Boro).
As the half wore on Newark started to gain possession of the ball but some strong defence saw the Newark attack repelled, not only was the tackling causing the attack problems but Boro also managed to spoil a maul that Newark set up after a lineout. The strong defence meant that Boro could keep Newark well away from their try line. It wasn't long before Boro managed to get the ball back, progress was quite quick and Boro started to go through the phases using the blindside to good effect. The ball was soon flung wide and Boro camped out on the Newark line, a series of thrusts from the forwards were stopped by a strong Newark goal line defence but full back Ryan Mackie used his power to get himself over in the corner (Newark 0v17 Boro). The half time whistle was not long after with Boro again in the ascendency.
Newark 0 v 17 Wellingborough
The half time chat had been about keeping a strong defence as it was expected that Newark would try and start the half strongly and this was the case as Newark went close to scoring after a break through the Boro defensive line. Boro soon settled down and Pete Vickers strong kicking game took over to keep Newark away from their 22. Both teams tried to impose themselves on the game but this resulted in elementary mistakes from both teams with passes not going to hand or being dropped (Checkers!!!).
A good set piece lineout after some accurate throwing from Adam 'four-in a row' Lambert saw Boro make huge yards into the Boro half with Chris Shipman, Paul Lambert and Shaun Mackie carrying the ball. A penalty was awarded to Boro for a breakdown infringement but the kick was pushed wide right by Pete Vickers. From the drop out back Shaun Mackie collected the ball and took it into the heart of the Newark defence, the ball was quickly spun to the right and Tom Bryan drew the defence in and passed the ball to Craig Marshall who showed some skills that his predecessor (some lad called Kyle) could only dream of by dummying the winger and stepping inside the full back to score Boro's bonus point try, which was converted by Pete Vickers (Newark 0v24 Boro).
Boro carried on with their attacking play and another wide attack saw greedy captain Pete Vickers butcher an overlap down the right. They soon won the ball back and this time it was Joel Smith breaking through the Newark defence, the ball was quickly spun right and Chris Shipman fended his way through the defence to score the try which was converted by Pete Vickers (Newark 0v31 Boro). The bench was soon emptied with youngsters Dan Pateman and Reece Parillon coming on along with wily old veteran Mark Bartlem. All three were soon called into action as Newark attacked the Boro tryline for the first time in the match, Reece Parillon put in two big hits to stop the Newark attack and Dan Pateman made himself a nuisance at the ruck.
However, the defensive pressure soon took its toll with Craig Marshall, in a typical piece of jug avoidance, got himself sin binned for kicking the ball out of the scrum half's hands. However, this didn't seem to deter Boro as they again went on the attack, however, this time it was some strong Newark defence that prevented the try, and they managed to clear their lines with a high kick which full back Adam Lambert was unable to collect. Newark in the final throes threw everything at Boro and finally the Boro defence broke as the Newark winger ran in a well worked try which was converted (Newark 7v31 Boro).
Newark 7 v 31 Wellingborough
This was probably Boro's strongest performance of the season, their attacking play was clinical and defence was rock-solid. With a break and some training sessions cancelled due to the weather there was a worry that this would affect performance but this wasn't the case as the first XV hit the ground running. The pack were instrumental in providing quick clean ball for the half backs Andy Seaton and Pete Vickers who both controlled the game dictating the play. Special mention must also go to Reece and Dan, both are young lads who are the future of the forwards and acquitted themselves well off the bench.
Next week sees Boro play Derby, in the reverse fixture Derby won with some room too spare in terms of the score and are also sat pretty in 2nd, the score wasn't necessarily reflective of the majority of the game and Boro certainly see this as a marker to see how far they have come this season. Last weeks Tuesday training saw in excess of 30 players turn up and having those numbers certainly helps in terms of training and being battle-ready. See you all on Saturday!