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Newbury Blues head coach Paul Archer signs off final game in charge with a win at Monks Lane

Tom Cole produced moments of magic at the start and end of Blues’ final South West 1 East match of the season against Grove at Monks Lane.

And Blues ensured head coach Paul Archer signed off with a win in his last game in charge.

From the kick off, Cole made a try-saving tackle and then, in the 71st minute, he scored a great try from his own half.

Blues number 10 cruises in to score against Grove
Blues number 10 cruises in to score against Grove

He rarely appears to be going that quickly, but the long stride length is deceptive in how much ground he covers.

The work rate of the whole team was too much for Grove to handle, with Toby Thorne and Adam Neal outstanding.

Thorne’s delivery from the base of the scrum, his decision making and his try in the second half made a huge contribution to the win, as did the work of Neal, whose willingness to carry in the tight spaces often goes unseen, but is not unappreciated.

Newbury Blues v Grove
Newbury Blues v Grove

Grove started the game with a great deal of purpose and within five minutes of the kick-off they scored their first, and only, try of the game.

After that, a resolute defence and great discipline in not giving away kickable penalties snuffed out Grove’s threat.

The Grove try seemed to spark Blues into action and a strong burst through the middle by Kris Ford led to a good attacking position.

From a lineout win Dan Thorne sliced through the Grove defence to score Blues first try, which he successfully converted.

Blues were now in control and two Dan Thorne penalties saw them open up a 13-7 lead.

Grove’s ill discipline continued to cost them dear and they gave away a lot of penalties which stopped them gaining any real momentum.

A further Dan Thorne penalty made the half-time score 16-7.

Within 10 minutes of restart Blues scored their second try.

The front row of Ben Hicks, James Macaulay and Harry Waye Branch, all of whom had outstanding seasons, put pressure on the Grove scrum and a scrum penalty and the resulting lineout win saw the pack rumble over for a proper forwards try scored by Neal.

Grove were struggling to match Blues’ speed of play and the third try came soon after, with Toby Thorne bursting through a gap to score.

The successful conversion by brother Dan took the score to 28-7 and it was then all about the bonus point try, which came courtesy of Cole’s long-range effort.

Waye Branch deserves special for playing every game this season.

It wasn’t long ago that he was tearing it up for the Stags and he is testament to the aim of the club of bringing through young players.

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