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McAvoy feels mistakes cost Blues as Newbury well beaten by league leaders Jersey





Newbury Blues head coach James McAvoy felt mistakes in key moments cost his side as they suffered a third successive defeat, losing 47-5 at home to unbeaten league leaders Jersey.

There was absolutely no disgrace in Blues' defeat, with the visitors boasting a number of players that had been playing at a much higher level prior to the first team's – who were in the Championship – collapse. Jersey arrived in West Berkshire with nine wins from nine, averaging more than 40 points per game.

Yet McAvoy was left feeling a little bit disappointed that his side weren't more in the game, with a couple of tries either side of half time taking the game beyond Blues' reach. After Toby Thorne's try had reduced the deficit to 12-5, hooker Jack Macfarlane powered over to extend Jersey's lead just before the break. Then, not long after the restart, a knock-on gifted the visitors possession and Max Harrington dived over from the back of the maul, ensuring Jersey were out of sight.

Blues were well-beaten by runaway league leaders Jersey. Pictures by Phil Cannings
Blues were well-beaten by runaway league leaders Jersey. Pictures by Phil Cannings
Head coach James McAvoy felt mistakes cost his side, particularly either side of half time
Head coach James McAvoy felt mistakes cost his side, particularly either side of half time

"The feelings of disappointment were twofold," McAvoy said.

"One was the bigger picture. I'm not sure many players in this group have had the feeling of losing three games in a row. Even last year, when we had bad patches, it was always interspersed with wins.

"The other thing was there was a bit of a sense that we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We were looking at going into the sheds at 12-5 at half time, and that would've been really positive. We'd done so much good work defensively, and I thought out wide we were testing them. The two tries they scored really sapped our energy. Our penalty count and our discipline didn't help, and you can't give good teams like that opportunities."

Ali Magee drives forward for Blues
Ali Magee drives forward for Blues
Skipper Dan Thorne in possession
Skipper Dan Thorne in possession
Blues look to gain ground against the unbeaten league leaders
Blues look to gain ground against the unbeaten league leaders

Nevertheless, the Blues boss was able to take some positives from how his side acquitted themselves against the best team in the league, with some players possessing elite level experience.

He said: "For a number of our players, it was their first time going up against opposition of that quality.

"It also showed, like it did when London Irish came down, that there isn't a massive difference between us and them when we're on it. I think the boys can take a lot of confidence from that.

"We did follow a game plan, we just didn't quite have the execution."

Toby Thorne scored the home side’s only try
Toby Thorne scored the home side’s only try
Blues set for a scrum against the leaders
Blues set for a scrum against the leaders

Newbury are in the midst of a difficult run, having lost their last three games to Winchester, Tottonians and Jersey, slipping to eighth in the Regional 2 South Central table. And, while McAvoy admits his side's form is something of a concern, he's targetting four wins from the next four fixtures, beginning with a trip to Witney, who are one place above them in the league, on December 2.

"We've spoken about the next block, from Witney away to Chichester at home, as four games we believe we can win," he said.

"At the start of the season we were winning games, and at times like those you're never as good as you think you are. You lose a few games like we have now, and you're never as bad as you think you are. It's all contextual.

"We're a bit sore at the moment, but we're confident we can bounce back.

Hooker Harry Waye-Branch delivers a lineout
Hooker Harry Waye-Branch delivers a lineout
Captain Dan Thorne kicks under pressure
Captain Dan Thorne kicks under pressure

"There's a little bit more pressure now going into Witney, but we've got a lot of experienced heads who can help us through. We've got a great leadership group, and we won't panic.

"In terms of the table, we can see the importance of the Witney game. They've had a couple of good wins, I think they're a lot better at home than away. I'm sure they'll be targetting us as well, looking at our run of form they'll be thinking they can have a go.

"We've got a few wrongs to right and we're excited to do so."



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