Pats leave it late to claim a spectacular, bruising win
NEWTON ABBOT 20 OLD PATESIANS 25
OLD Patesians pulled off a spectacular victory in the dying minutes of a full-on bloody and bruising clash with high-flying Newton Abbot in National League Three South West.
This was no game for the purists at the Rackerhayes but more akin to tribal warfare where the fourth-placed All Whites have ruled supreme this season.
Due to unavailability and injury Pats had been obliged to tinker with their line-up, but they welcomed back the talismanic James Stickland to generate drive and momentum from the second-row berth and dashing centre Lee Taylor returned from injury to take a place on the bench.
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Veteran warhorse Matt Mudway slotted in at scrum-half as regular first pick James Aherne was off on a skiing holiday.
Pats made the best possible start when centre Brett Turner made a superb touch find to set up a penalty lineout five metres from the Whites line.
Steve Trust, back in the first team for a long time, palmed the ball off the top and the ball was whipped through the hands to send in left wing Danny Davies for a cracking try in his corner.
Newton Abbot were stunned by the impertinence of their visitors and when the Pats scrum-half collapsed, fly-half Rob Avery-Wright banged over a penalty goal.
Pats' scrummaging technique succumbed to the pressure exerted by the Whites' giants and only the wily genius of Mudway scrambling the ball free while on the retreat gave his fly-half Matt Dean and Turner just about enough time to launch their pressure-relieving kicks.
Mudway conned the Whites' fly-half into stepping offside and Turner hoofed over a penalty goal 40 metres out, but thereafter the half belonged to Newton Abbot.
Pats were pummelled in the scrum. turned over in the lineout, beaten in the breakdown battle and generally denied any worthwhile possession.
Newton Abbot spent long periods camped in the Pats red zone with several series of multi-phase pick-and-drives, but their many chances to score were denied by Pats' oustanding defensive regime.
Try-saving tackles were made time and again and centre Stu Taylor was immense as he led his midfield warriors.
Pats lost flanker Josh Stevens to the sin-bin for a punch and again the entire Newton Abbot pack rolled over the Pats goal line, but Stickland kept the ball off the ground.
Pats eventually cracked when Newton Abbot replacement prop Alex Gale flopped over for a try converted by Avery-Wright.
Stevens rejoined the battle, but within seconds of his arrival number eight Henry Tapsell was shown a yellow card for collapsing a maul.
Whites number eight Brett Stroud crashed over for a try, again converted by Avery-Wright, and Newton Abbot led 17-8 at half-time.
After the break Pats right wing Callum Kerr forced a fumble and flanker Paul Scott came from deep for a try between the posts converted by Turner.
The home side lost hooker Dean Avery to the sin-bin for punching and he was joined by Pats prop Rob White for retaliation.
Uncontested scrums were now the order of the day as Pats skipper and prop James King was already off with a twinge in his neck.
Turner and Avery-Wright exchanged successful penalty goal kicks, but with only a few minutes left Pats were still behind and Newton Abbot continued to boss the game.
Their mistake was not being aware of the mesmeric running skills of Pats full-back George Hughes when he has space to operate.
He fielded a garryowen deep in his own half and after a breathtaking 50-metre dash offloaded to Kerr for a remarkable match-winning try.
Turner turned the screw with a touch-line conversion and Pats had taken a notable scalp.
Newton Abbot: S Jones, E McGinley, K Dennis, A Moore, N Holt, R Avery-Wright, J Smith, K Mason, D Avery, J Tichias, B Cole, L Williams, J Hannaford, P Mortimore, B Stroud. Replacements, all used under the interchange system: S Ward, C Stewart, A Gale.
Old Patesians: G Hughes, C Kerr, S Taylor, B Turner, D Davies, M Dean, M Mudway, J King, C Dean, R White, J Stickland, S Trust, P Scott, J Stevens, H Tapsel. Replacements, all used under the interchange system: C Thompson, L Taylor, D Redburn.
Referee: M Shales
Star man: Pats second row James Stickland