New Cross eager to taste big match flavour again
NEW Cross skipper Tim Prowse had nothing but praise for his side after their 18-11 defeat by Wessex in the Devon Junior Cup final.
Wessex were never behind in the game, but never far enough ahead to feel comfortable either.
Two minutes into stoppage time a Tom Gwynne penalty gave Wessex a seven-point cushion, which saw them through another 10 minutes of time added on by referee Steve Avenall.
Prowse said there will always be iffs, buts and maybes after such a close game. Overall he had no complaints.
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"We lost a cracking game of rugby to a side who were fractionally better than us," said Prowse.
"It may sound odd, but I didn't feel too bad about it afterwards – and neither did anyone else.
"Wessex are a good side – the won our division this season – and we really gave them a game. All our players gave their all.
"You could say we might have found it productive attacking their blind side a bit more often, where they looked a bit exposed, and could have used the high ball tactic over their defence a bit more often.
"Whether it would have made a difference, I have no idea.
"In the past we have struggled against their driving maul, but we sorted that out. I felt we were 20 per cent better than three weeks ago when we drew with Wessex in the league.
"What we proved to ourselves as a relatively young club is it is possible to get to finals and put them on successfully. Lots of people worked very hard to make the day a huge success for players and spectators alike.
"It has been a learning curve and we have taken it in. Having had a taste of the big match atmosphere, we will try to get there again next season."
New Cross stammered their way through the first 20 minutes - only once venturing past the Wessex 22-metre line - and were lucky not to be punished more than they were for a high penalty count around the breakdown.
Wessex led 10-6 at the break but had they turned pressure into points it would have been a different story.
When Wessex took the lead on 18 minutes the only question was why had it taken them so long?
Flanker Dean Meldon made a darting run then offloaded to Richard Hart, who crashed over wide on the right. Tom Gwynne converted from the touchline.
New Cross came into the game before half time and got the score back to 10-6 with a pair of Ryan Wotton penalties.
Wessex came out ready for business in the second half and pressure brought a five-metre scrum after referee Avenall gave held-up in goal following a line-out drive over.
Sam Adams scooped the ball up and crashed over for a try.
The next 20 minutes were almost exclusively New Cross, who tried everything they knew to get through, round or over the Wessex defence.
Finally, on 57 minutes, Louie Griffiths made a run from central midfield and squeezed over wide on the left.
Two minutes into stoppage time New Cross went offside in front of their own posts and Gwynne knocked over the clinching kick.