Thu, 15 Mar 2018
NEWBURY Blues head coach Lee Goodall is looking for a strong end-of-season effort as his side bids to pull clear of danger.
The Blues suffered a 19-12 defeat at Brixham last Saturday and remain one point about the relegation zone in the South West Premier.
Although the head coach was pleased with his side’s second-half performance, it was a frustrating start.
He said: “It was a frustrating game because it’s one we could have won, and one we should have really won.
“It felt like we lost it, rather than them winning it,” admitted Goodall.
Despite sitting in a precarious position, four of Blues’ five remaining fixtures take place at Monks Lane and he admits that it’s all to play for.
Goodall said: “It’s worked out as two games at home, a week off, a last away trip and then two more games at home and that kind of run-in should certainly favour us.”
The Blues welcome Cleve on Saturday for the re-arranged fixture, after the original game was snowed off on March 3.
Goodall admitted that it allows his team to bounce back after defeat last time out.
“What it allows us to do is improve from Saturday as we are straight back in with two games at home.”
As this weekend was marked as a weekend off for the Blues, Goodall was pleased at the attitude his team has shown at this stage of a very competitive season.
He said: “It’s such a competitive league this year – I’ve not seen one like it. We are 11th at the moment, but there’s only 10 points that separate us and fifth place.
“It’s insanely competitive and if we play the top teams, they still have an eye on promotion and we have an eye on a mid-table finish.
“There’s certainly not going to be any dead rubber games ahead.”
Blues made one change to the squad for the trip to Brixham, new recruit fly-half Ollie Milner starting on the bench to replace Anthony Hackett.
The Devon side took a hold of the game from the early stages as Tom Putt converted a penalty after just 10 minutes to put the host ahead.
Shortly after, Brixham won their scrum and scored their first try, Connor Bedwell nipping through a gap in the Blues defence to cross over, with Putt converting.
Play was halted midway through the half as Brixham captain Adam Thomas suffered a broken arm.
After the short break, the hosts won their scrum once again and from a penalty Putt slotted between the posts to give them a 13-0 lead at the break.
Things didn’t start as planned after half time as Putt continued from where he left in the first-half, kicking between the posts on 46 minutes.
However, this time Goodall’s men responded well and finally got on the board through Joe Pigott, but the try remained unconverted.
Despite slowly getting back into the game, Brixham converted another penalty through Putt with 10 minutes to go as they held their scrum.
Five minutes later, the Blues pack shoved Brixham backwards at the scrum and the good momentum was stopped by Brixham infringing, giving the visitors a penalty try.
Blues put up a good fight in the closing stages, but couldn’t claw back the points they had conceded in the first half.
Their only reward from this closely-fought game was a losing bonus point.