Owls outplayed in Stan Calvert clash

Our rugby league correspondent Bradley Cunningham reports on the Owl's defeat to an impressive Northumbria team

Bradley Cunningham
13th February 2017
Proud Owls: Newcastle can take positives from the defeat. Image: Bradley Cunningham

Under the lights at Druid Park, Newcastle University came up short against a strong Northumbria side, who had bolstering their title hopes with last week’s win at Leeds Beckett.

After 2 disappointing results in the league against the neighbours, Newcastle set out to provide a stern test for Northumbria. Newcastle started the game on the back foot, as a mistake from kick off let Northumbria camp down in the Newcastle 20.

It wasn’t long before the first score of the game as Northumbria’s spread play resulted in their winger going in for the first try of the game. A missed conversion saw Northumbria take the lead 4-0.

As bright of a start Northumbria had, Newcastle matched, if not got the better of them in the first half. Strong runs and offloads from Ryan Major and Aaron Leavy helped Newcastle get on the front foot on several occasions.

On the back of a penalty, Newcastle gained some good field position, resulting in James Nicholls to go over after breaking the line and going over the covering full back. Conversion by Matthew Hogg meant the Owls took the lead 6-4.

“Strong runs and offloads from Ryan Major and Aaron Leavy helped Newcastle get on the front foot”

Northumbria’s reply was swift and they regained the lead after a break down the right edge. Again a missed conversion meant Newcastle were only 2 points behind. However, a penalty in front of the sticks furthered Northumbria’s lead to 4.

Newcastle weren’t done there though, and the strength of the Newcastle pack at times dominated Northumbria. Quick ruck play from hooker Jed Mawdesley put Newcastle in a good position, resulting in Hogg going over as he spotted a gap in the defense. The unconverted try levelled the game at 10-10.

Finlay Hutchison looked to have broken free after a professional foul from a quick tap, before Northumbria went down to 12 men just before half time. Unfortunately, Newcastle didn’t capitalise on the man advantage, as in the second half Newcastle struggled to replicate some of the attacking threat that what was seen in the first 40.

The game of two halves resulted in a spirited defensive effort from the Newcastle side, but they were unable to gain any good field possession in order to try and test Northumbria.

Penalties kept costing the Owls, and they soon found themselves 12 points behind after two converted tries. Highlighting the intensity and the strength of Newcastle, Northumbria again opted for the 2 points when already 12 infront.

The game resulted in a 24-10 defeat. The strong performance does provide some positives to take out of the game, as this impressive Newcastle side look ahead for a run in the cup.

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