Shropshire Star

All Blacks hit road in cup as the season draws to a close

Bridgnorth head north this weekend for what is likely to be their final fixture of the season.


The All Blacks take on Lancashire outfit Rossendale in their second Papa John’s Community Cup clash.

And having lost their opening Regional One Championship Pool Two clash 50-15 at home to Heath last Saturday, Bridgnorth are outsiders in the race to top the group.

The hosts were much-changed for last weekend’s clash due to availability issues with a number of second-team players stepping in.

But despite the loss, coach Bryan Smallman believes the opportunity to expose a number of players to the standard was a positive experience.

“It was a tough afternoon, but we knew that was going to be the case given the selection issues,” said Smallman. “You have seven players on the bench in this competition and all ours were second team players. We also had three second team players in our pack.

“But it gave them some great exposure and hopefully some of them will want more of it. We made a commitment to use the whole bench so everyone got a run-out. Our lads came off with a smile on their faces, which was good to see.

“The fact they got the exposure and that some of them might want to be in that environment more was a real positive for us.

“For various reasons a lot of players don’t come to training once the season has started. I don’t know why that is because our sessions are not exclusive to the first-team squad. If more of the lads came training that would get more exposure to what the first-team level is like and it would help improve them as players.”

Newport had an enjoyable journey home after ending their National Two West away campaign in stunning style.

With their relegation fate already sealed, Newport made the long trip to Cornwall to tackle Camborne with nothing to play but pride. And they certainly showed plenty of that as they rallied from 14-0 down to secure an impressive 38-33 success.

“That was our best performance of the season by a country mile,” said director of rugby Bob Adams, who was taking charge of his penultimate game having announced he will step down at the end of the season.

“We were 14-0 down after 10 minutes but the desire, attitude and performance from then on was top notch. We looked extremely sharp in our execution and played some good rugby.

“Being 14-0 early on and second bottom of the league, they could have capitulated but they did the opposite. It was pleasing to see a lot of heart and soul and nice to get our first away win of the season.

“Camborne got to within a score with five minutes to go but the players dug in and showed great desire to see out the win, and you could see the elation on their faces at the end.

“It was a long weekend, we left at 4.30pm on Friday and didn’t get back until 11.30pm on Saturday. But it was an enjoyable trip home. I was really chuffed for the players.”

Newport wrap up their season at home to third-placed Clifton on Saturday, April 27, and will be looking to maintain their recent improvement.

“We have had a settled team the last four or five weeks, everyone knows what they are doing and the performances have been better,” added Adams.

“The last four or five weeks that togetherness has been there and we have played as a team. Unfortunately it’s too late.”

Clee Hill ended an impressive Counties Two Midlands West (West) rugby campaign on a high.

A 30-24 success at home to Stourbridge Lions saw Clee end the season in third place, just three points behind runners-up Willenhall.

Rhys Williams crossed the line three times to finish the season as the top try scorer in the division, with 27, as well as the top points scorer.

Captain Charlie Evans also scored two tries, and Hayden Edwards added five points with the boot.

A spirited second-half showing provided Market Drayton Ravens with some cheer on a testing final day of the season.

Drayton were forced to name a much-changed side for their Counties Two Midlands West (West) clash at home to Bromyard.

The starting line-up included two recognised first-team backs – Will Charman, playing out of position at fly-half, and full-back George Minshall.

Flankers Dave Adams and Robert Lumley filled the centre positions with Chris Doree, making his first start of the season, and Gareth Williams on the wings.

Craig Woolley made his first and only appearance in the front row along with Jim Barratt, making his fifth, while there were just two replacements on the bench.

But after trailing 43-0 early in the second half, Drayton rallied.

Dan Bolton touched down following a maul, with Minshall adding the conversion.

More home pressure followed and some impressive play ended with Hendrick Visser driving over the line, with Minshall again adding the extras.

A converted try from Dewi Griffiths continued the fightback to make it 43-21 before Bromyard had the last say with a try to end the scoring at 48-21.

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