Newbury Blues recorded an unlikely 12-10 victory in an ill-tempered game to upset Towcestrians’ title charge and become the first visiting team to triumph at Greens Norton Road this season.
Tows made the worst possible start when an attempted clearing kick shortly after kick-off held up in the strong breeze and came down in the arms of the Newbury winger and he fed the full-back who out-paced the defensive cover to put Blues into a 5-0 lead.
Towcestrians then started to assert themselves and quickly gained the upper hand in the scrum, playing multiple phases but unable to penetrate a resolute defence.
With Tows camped in Newbury’s 22, a penalty was conceded and having declined the kick at goal, the ball was sent into the corner for the line-out which eventually resulted in the hosts driving across for Liam Wilkinson to score and bring Tows level at half-time.
Tows started the second half in similar fashion, with ascendancy in the scrum and playing the majority of the rugby, and eventually Newbury’s defence cracked when the outstanding Wilkinson put Tows 10-5 ahead.
Further good play and solid pressing defence led to a scrum on the Blues 22, the Newbury scrum raced backwards and crumbled, with the large home crowd expecting a penalty to be awarded.
The ref waved play on, though, and the ball bobbled free and into the hands of Newbury who saw an opportunity and ran the ball, with excellent interplay leading to a converted score for the full-back under the posts.
Now trailing by two, Tows threw everything into the final quarter but despite dominating territory and possession, they found the Newbury defence too difficult to breakdown, along with some streetwise efforts from the Blues front five to disrupt and slow the ball at every opportunity, again going largely unpunished by the referee.
Tows are five points clear at the top of South West One East with four games to play.
Tows director of rugby said: “It was great game, hard fought by two very committed sides, but when you dominate the game like we did and not come away the victory it does leave you scratching your head.
The lads’ effort was brilliant and we just couldn’t get it over the line.”
Tows IIs beat Nuneaton 24-10 and the Colts defeated Vipers 41-17.