Amber Valley 1st XV 5pts
Notts Casuals 43pts
VALLEY can have no complaints after this defeat to league leaders Nottingham Casuals.
The visitors played the better rugby throughout. Valley may bemoan injuries and unavailabilitys but even with their strongest side out the result would probably have been no different, only a little closer.
With three first choice backs out for various reasons it was a much changed back line that lined up against one of the best running teams in the league, but despite coming off second best they showed glimpses of danger that they can build on in the coming weeks.
Casuals started the brighter of the two teams and were soon 14-0 up, Mark Burditt was sent to the sin bin for obstructing a quick tap penalty that would almost certainly have led to a try and despite the forwards efforts Casuals exploited the extra man to drive over from short range.
Traffic was not all one way, and although Casuals kept the scoreboard ticking over with 4 tries in the first half Valleys heads did not drop and the team created chances.
Fly-half Richard Doxey, in for the injured Ardern, kicked well out of hand and varied the play up sufficiently to put Casuals on the back foot, but when in the danger zone the team couldn’t fashion the opening to turn the pressure into points.
Even when back to a full complement Valley struggled to contain the visitors, the two packs were evenly matched in the line-outs, but had a slight edge in the scrum, wheeling to good effect to put Lee Chapman and Adrian Head under pressure.
But Valley still had some good runners, Matt Goodall, Burditt, Allen and Parker all played well in the loose, turning over ball, but Valley just didn’t have the raw pace out wide to exploit the chances.
At half time Valley knew they were up against a fit and well drilled side, and came out with good intentions to enjoy the game and restore some pride, and this they did well, despite conceding another early score they soon crossed the whitewash.
A set piece backs move on the half way released Jonno Sims, who fed Kirkup to break up the outside before eventually being bundled into touch.
The forwards disrupted the resulting line-out enough to regain possession and ran through a couple of phases, allowing Ashley Allen enough space to squeeze over the line.
Casuals scored a final couple of tries late on to consolidate their position at the top of the table.
Coach Tom Uniacke, who made another cameo appearance, spoke to the players after the game and said: “At the end of the day, we came up against a better team, it was probably a better performance than last week’s win, but we stuck at it and the lads showed some character to not let their heads drop”.
Jonno Sims won the FizzioFit man of the match award for his great cover tackling and some good counterattacking that deserved more than it got.
Valley face another tough game next week as they travel to second placed Melbourne. The team are not far away from the leaders, but have enough to work on in the coming weeks.