Birkett back from retirement in Whites win
NEWTON Abbot could probably do with a game this week to keep the momentum up after their 24-12 win away to Oxford Harlequins.
The post-Christmas spell has not been kind to the All Whites, who have been hammered by London Irish and Weston, as well as losing to Old Patesians, among the few occasions when they have been able to play.
Victory at Oxford was expected, but by no means a foregone conclusion for a Newton side riddled with selection problems.
It was a bonus-point win on the road though and one that has done the All Whites a lot of good.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"We scored three tries in the first half and one more in the second for the bonus point," said director of rugby Roy Henderson.
"Our confidence has taken a real knock in recent weeks, but the longer the game went on the more you could see it coming back.
"Hopefully we are back in the groove now, although not having a game this Saturday is going to be a mixed blessing.
"A week off will give some of the injured players time to come back, but it means we go into a difficult game against Redingensians (4th) without a game for two weeks."
Newton really did have problems at Oxford as they were without full-back Josh Smith, centre Kev Dennis, scrum-half Matt Newman and lock Matt Templeman.
As Smith would usually deputise for Newman at scrum-half, Newton had a real headache.
Colts' scrum-half Mickey Edworthy was on standby if needed, until an old face stepped into the void.
Former player-coach Andy Birkett, who retired at the end of last season and is now a media pundit, dug out his boots again and between him and Stephen Ward they covered the job.
"Birkett played the first half, but was knackered as he hasn't been training so we took him off and Wardie went in there," said Henderson.
"Midway through the second half Alex Moore went off injured, so Birks was back on as a replacement.
"Mickey Edworthy trained well with the 1st XV squad on the Thursday before the match and although he didn't get in on this occasion his time will come."
Quins had the early pressure and went ahead on 12 minutes when they ran back a failed Newton touchfinder for a converted try.
Newton responded with a catch-and-drive score from Lee Williams – his maiden try in the 1st XV – which Rob Avery-Wright converted.
A similar effort soon after didn't quite make it, but when Quins went down to 14 men following a sin-binning Newton cashed in.
Avery-Wright punted the penalty wide for Sam Jones to run in under the kick and claim a try in the corner.
There was still time before the break for centre Jamie Hannaford to get on the end of a move for a try that made it 17-7.
Seven minutes into the second half Newton secured the fourth try and a bonus point for it when concerted pressure ended with Jones going in again. Avery-Wright converted.
Quins came into the game in the second half and played some ambitious rugby at times. They finished on a high with a try run in from a defensive scrum on their own five-metre line.
While the 1st XV have a break, the 2nd XV provide the action at Rackerhayes on Saturday when they take on Paignton's second string in a Devon Merit Table match KO 2.45.
A Club XV will entertain Irish side Clontarf, a team with which 1st XV captain Ben Cole has connections. The Colts will be looking to make it three wins in a row when they play Exeter Saracens at Homers Lane.
Sam Pavey continued his rich vein of form with another hat-trick, taking his total to seven tries in two games, with all three tries in a 15-5 win over Plymstock.
Not everything was rosy though, as Newton lost two players to Torbay Hospital – scrum-half Jack Whorton needing six stitches to his ear and Lewis Curtis sustaining a sprained ankle.
NEWTON 2nd XV were strong enough to beat near neighbours Torquay 36-8 in their latest Devon Merit match. Centre Darren Rockett and winger Josh Tolan were in fine form, each touching down twice. Singles went to lock Joe Bramley and Ed Stoyle, who came off the bench to score his. Mike Saxton booted over half of the conversions on offer.
NEWTON Abbot have cancelled all 3rd XV fixtures for the rest of the season due to team-raising problems.
The team – known as the Abbots – will be revived next season if numbers are sufficient.