Midlands 3 East (North)
Amber Valley 1st XV 29pts
Valley put in a good performance following on from the previous week’s disappointing, but not unexpected result at Notts Casuals.
The coaching staff made several positional changes for this game in the backs as well as a slight change of tactics in the pack, and early signs are promising.
This gave the backs a little more pace out wide and some more direct running through the middle. However, Valley again started the game slowly and were soon 7-0 down.
A decent kick off from Southwell put Valley on the back foot and the visitors continued to apply pressure, some good rucking from Southwell gave them the try and the conversion was good.
Thankfully the response from the home side was good and the rest of the half was played out mostly within the Southwell half as valley racked up 22 unanswered points to put them into a commanding half time lead.
With Varney and Bell providing a good source of quick ball from the line-outs the backs were able to put the game plan into good effect.
Duran Wardale mixing up play well and bringing Lee Steemson and David Walters in on tight runs. Good support play was provided but Valley showed they still have work to do as too often the players tried one too many offloads when keeping possession may have been a better choice. But Valley were soon into the points through Ashley Allen.
A smart break from Matt Ardern outwide set up ruck ball in the 22, the forwards took the ball on well before Chapman spun ball out to Ashley Allen to go over in the corner.
A penalty by Ardern put Valley into the lead for the first time before Duran Wardale got his name on the scoresheet.
The pack provided a good source of ball for the Steemson to make a good break, possession was won back and a ruck soon formed on the Southwell line. As the ball lay at the back of the ruck Chapman could not have been more vocal in telling both teams what he was going to do as Wardale came on a short ball in the massive gap Southwell had left. Ardern converted to put Valley in a commanding position.
Southwell’s main asset was some young and pacey backs, who did try and work their way round, or put in a chip over, but showed some naivety in some of their decision making that put promising attacks to the sword.
The home side finished off the half with a try through full back Jonno Sims. With the ball being worked wide and Southwell pressuring Sims took a great attacking line to slice through the defence and go over to the right of the posts. Another conversion finished off what had been a dominant half for Amber Valley.
The teams turned around and it seemed that Valley had decided the game was won and took their foot of the gas, this accompanied by another good start by the visitors could have been disasturous, but a good defence kept Southwell out, even with Adrian Head sent to the bin for hands in the ruck.
Sean Dowdall, back in the side after a long break, had a lot of defending to do as Steemson was moved out to the wing, but showed glimpses of good form with some half breaks, strong running and typical big hits in defence.
With Valley struggling for the same fluency as in the first half they rarely threatened the visiting defence, but when they did Matt Ardern finished off a cracking try.
The play started in the Valley 22, Lee Chapman made a break down the left and possession was kept well by the pack, some good hands put Ardern into space out showed why he had been moved to 13 as he outsprinted the defence to touchdown in the corner and then compose himself to take his personal tally to 14 poinyts with the conversion.
Southwell hit back with a well deserved try but the day belonged to Valley who will take confidence into their next game against Sleaford this weekend, a team who put 60 points on Valley a few weeks ago.
Ashley Allen was awarded the FizzioFit Man of the Match award, for another great game at openside in both attack and defence.
Coach Tom Uniacke said: “We asked the players to provide quicker ball to the backs and they did a good job.
“There are still some individual errors in finishing off chances and we dropped off a little in the second half, but I’m pleased with the performance and the way the team responded to last week’s defeat”