Spartans 19, Newcastle 12.
On a perfect afternoon for running rugby both sides conspired to produce a game of winter quality, defying the conditions and reverting to a robust and traditional game.
On a perfect afternoon for running rugby both sides conspired to produce a game of winter quality, defying the conditions and reverting to a robust and traditional game. There was a stop/start nervous approach from both to begin with, as the sides tested each other out and relative strengths were sought. Newcastle clearly had the upper hand with an enormous set of forwards, whilst Spartans had the slightly livelier backs, and a game of chess ensued as the game unfolded. Spartans took the lead with Tom Hardy landing a couple of long range penalties, but were forced to defend for long periods as Newcastle used their considerable muscle to good effect, but some strange decisions let Spartans off the hook and Hardy banged over a third penalty to stretch the lead. The Men In Black squandered a couple of chances against a well organised defence, and as play continued there was little to separate the sides at half time.
Newcastle started the second half well and pressured Spartans from the off, but again the black line just about held firm as the whistle punctuated play, with plenty of time for players to rest and recover. The black forwards struggled to provide a regular supply of ball to their friends behind them, and frustration was the order of the day for a blunted set of backs. The visitors finally found a way through from a a clever lineout and worked their way over the line for a five pointer.Tom Hardy added a fourth penalty for Spartans before a rare opportunity opened up for a surge by the blacks and the defence was split for a fine try finished off by the forwards. Not to be outdone, Newcastle played to their strengths and a period of pressure led to an excellent scrum half spotting the gap and nipping in to score.
The final ten minutes saw a frantic end to what had been a fairly dull game, with Newcastle throwing the kitchen sink, dishwasher and washing machine at Spartans who just about resisted the onslaught. "A win's a win", as they say.
This week Spartans make the long journey south to Old Saltleians for round three of their league campaign.