Classical autumnal conditions (although pleasantly mild), greeted Durham 2nd XV and Nottingham 1st XV on the opening fixture for the Northern outfit; Nottingham having gotten off to a winning start against Birmingham in the previous week. This turned out to be an excellent game, which ebbed and flowed throughout. Great endeavor and skill were on show at the picturesque Racecourse Ground, which as ever, provided the perfect setting for the supporters. An enterprising start from the Durham team was typified by the efforts of Hodor, who was putting in a
big shift early doors, and Nottingham were struggling to contain him. In no small part to this contribution, Durham won two penalties, which were knocked over by George Jones, to give Durham an excellent start to the game. 6-0
However, a lapse in concentration in the 12th minute, lead to a try for Nottingham which was duly converted. In truth, Nottingham did present a threat at this stage, and the try was reward for their possession and territory. 6-7 The Durham team looked a real threat with ball in hand, and the next score was as a result of some dazzling hands from the boys in Palatinate. Baz was the instigator, and his dreamy pass put in Harri Thomas who scored in the corner. The conversion drifted wide, but Durham had retaken the lead in this seesaw encounter. 11-7
There was more good work from Nottingham who immediately took up the challenge of going behind, showing Great Spirit. On 20 minutes, they looked certain to be going over for a try, before Molloy came out of nowhere to deny them with a breathtaking last ditch tackle, which roused the home support. A Nottingham penalty followed, but nothing came from it. The Durham line speed was exemplary, and this resulted in a penalty to the home team and saw the lines duly cleared down field. Games like these, where the opponents are evenly matched, change on pivotal moments, and the binning of Hodor for a challenge on a man deemed still in the air proved to be a turning point. The momentum shift and a period of dominance for Nottingham resulted in three scores before half time. The first was an unconverted effort on 28 minutes following continuous pressure 11-12. The second was as a result of a disjointed defensive line, the try scorer going over in the corner. This time, the extras were added superbly for a score of 11-19. The final score of the half was as a result of a powerful driving maul on 35 minutes. The resulting conversion was made, and at half time, indeed it had been a half of two halves, where Durham paid dearly for being numerically disadvantaged. HT Score: 11-26
An attritional beginning to the second half saw the game reverting to the rhythm of the beginning of the first half. The game was halted on 60 minutes for a nasty looking head injury to Archie Hamilton (Wiz). All precautions duly taken, Wiz left the field to applause. Disappointed but unbowed, Wiz had put everything on the line for the cause. Being the moving spirit that he is, we hope to see him back on the
paddock soon, and we wish him well with his recovery. As is often the case with such a stoppage, the restart saw both teams struggling to reassert themselves.
Defences were on top throughout the second half, and as much as Durham strived to reduce the deficit, the Nottingham line held firm. It was only in the dying minutes of this encounter that a further score was added: and it was Durham who went over. A massive effort from the big lads resulted in a great team try. Jonesy again with the accuracy added the two. Final score Durham 2nd XV 18 Nottingham 1st XV
26. The Nottingham team returned down the A1/M1 with the points in the bag to make it two wins out of two in what is a good start for them in the North A Division. Durham will take heart from a gutsy performance in which they were competitive to the last. There were seminal moments which didn’t go their way. This was however, a deserved victory for the lads from Nottingham whose backs had been to the fore. Well played.
A glance at the fixture list shows that next up for Nottingham 1st XV is a home game against Bishop Burton College, whilst Durham 2nd XV will look to kick start their campaign with a local encounter against Newcastle 1st XV, in what promises to be a great game.