1st Team win top of the table clash!
By Dan Preece
Cleethorpes 1st XV 3
East Retford 1st XV 9
Retford travelled to 2nd placed Cleethorpes with everything to play for. Cleethorpes started strongly in front of the loud home support, but Retford were organised and aggressive in defence seeing off a number of phases to keep them at bay. Electng to play with the wind in the first half proved important in the early exchanges as Retford were able to make important clearances and kicks to gain territory. Against a heavy pack Retford did well at the scrum and were clinical at the lineout throughout with hooker Dan Fielding combining well with Jordan Mee. As always Retford looked threatening in attack throughout the first half with Fielding, Driver, Howard, Mee and Phillips all making metres with the ball. Continual pressure meant Retford found themselves metres from the line, only to be denied at the lineout moments before the half time whistle. 9-0 was the difference at half time thanks to three well taken penalties from the reliable boot of Dan Preece.
The dry conditions allowed for the game to open up in the second half with some fantastic end to end rugby. Cleethorpes made use of the wind to reply with an early 3 points, but Retford continued to be relentless in attack and defence. Both teams were unfortunate on a number of occasions not to score. Retford came close when Ryan Mellins ran a great angle from deep to break the defence, only to be held up over the line. From the resulting scrum the backline ran a crisp move to release Freeman through a gap who couldn’t hold on just metres from the line. Credit must go to Retford’s back three Mick Sykes, Josh Freeman and Dan Lodge, who dealt with windy conditions well when returning a number of clever Cleethorpes kicks. Amongst others, Retford’s best chance came for Dan Lodge. Retford had to retreat back to their own 22 and a great counter attack and vision from the backline line allowed Nicklin to create space for Lodge to charge down the left touchline. He was tackled just metres short of the line, summing up a frustrating afternoon when Retford ended without a try for the first time this season.
Man of the Match this week was Mikey Phillips who had a powerful game at scrum half and organised the forwards well. Three penalties was the difference in a very physical and high paced game. Retford fully deserved their win on the road proving they deserve their place at the top of the league.