Tows maintain promotion challenge with nervy win

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Towcestrians returned to their league campaign with a tense 18-16 win over Newbury in their first game of 2014.

Following a long, weather-induced break, Towcester quickly established a strong hold in the scrum and gained an early eight-point lead through a Matt Yuill penalty and Dave Stocks’ try.

Tows built up another sustained period of pressure on the Newbury try line, but only had a second Yuill penalty to show for their dominance as a number of chances from five-metre scrums were wasted.

Newbury responded Richard West’s penalty put the visitors on the board and reduced the deficit to 11-3 at half time.

A re-shuffle in Newbury’s pack after the break then gave them a foundation and they got themselves right back into the match when Jack Crawford produced an outrageous dummy to score under the posts for a simple conversion.

Now just a point ahead, Tows’ makeshift back row were struggling without the charismatic Eugen Baxter, but number eight Craig Holton came to the rescue to run in a try that was converted by Yuill.

However, the visitors hit back with two West penalties to tighten the gap to an agonising two points and set up a tense finish, but Tows weathered the pressure by going on the offensive and almost snatching a third try.

The home side held on to remain in contention for promotion in South West One East. This week, Tows visit leaders Oxford Harlequins.

Elsewhere, Tows IIs routed Olney IIs 68-0 while the Colts saw off Kettering 24-12.