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Painful dose for Blues


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Newbury 23 Launceston 25
A PAINFUL afternoon saw Blues suffer three key losses as they went down to their third defeat in five National League One games this season.
Their hopes of tucking in behind the leaders have been scotched by two setbacks at the hands of sides higher up the table, and now they face further injury worries after winger Chris Ridgers suffered a suspected broken leg on Saturday.
And they also lost top try scorer Martin Freeman early on with a ‘dead' leg, and that will make him doubtful for next week's trip to championship favourites Esher.
Aside from that, Newbury lost after failing to make the most of scrum dominance. They were given a helping hand when Launceston lost tight head Bruce Pow to injury in the warm-up and they had to field two loose heads up front.
They were always reeling backwards, although that was not the case in the lineout and loose play as they dominated the former and were quicker to break. They wiped out Mitch Burton's second minute penalty inside 120 seconds, Ed Lewsey putting Ryan Westren through a gaping hole to score under the posts.
Burton dropped a goal before Freeman hobbled off, but Blues seemingly shook off the setback when Matt Williams set up a move that ended with him offloading neatly for Ridgers to go through between the sticks for Burton to convert.
Burton added another penalty, but Tony Yapp soon replied and a six point lead from a gust-assisted half never looked like being enough.
And so it proved as Yapp put winger Ben Turner away to score after 106 seconds of the second period, and with stoppages littering the game, Blues struggled to find a real rhythm until they were awarded a penalty try after 64 minutes.
That came at a cost after Ridgers had been put clear, only to pull up instantly with what later turned out to be a worse injury than appeared.
Meanwhile, referee Michael Tutty had raised his arm to signal a penalty try, and Burton accepted the conversion gift to give Newbury a six-point lead.
Yapp soon reduced that with a penalty and it was gone altogether when a Newbury move broke down on the 22 and Launceston broke out for Lewis Webb to send in Turner for his second try.
Blues wasted a penalty chance to regain the lead when opting for a lineout, and when that ball was wasted, it summed up Blues' day and Luanceston were able to hold play in the Newbury 22 and see out time.
Newbury Blues: Williams; Ridgers, Scott, Humphries, Freeman; Burton, Gasson; Rowland, Fincken, McGrath; Hodge, Ascroft-:Leigh; Perkins, Bentall, Witcomb. Subs: Oliver, McGregor, Pape, Coxon-Smith, Turner.
Launceston: Fabian; Paterson, Westren, Lewsey, Turner; Yapp, Webb; Mathias, Semmens, Bolt; Hilton, Jenkins; Lord, Rawlings, Hocking. Subs: Brooking, Hurdwell, Fleming, Kimberley, Perry.

Don't forget to read the Newbury Weekly News — Berkshire's largest–selling local newspaper — out each Thursday morning.

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