Newmarket edge out Cottenham Renegades in title decider to win Eastern Counties One West
Newmarket are the winners of Eastern Counties One West this season after coming from behind to beat Cottenham Renegades 25-20 in a title decider on Saturday.
With the two teams having played each other in the first match of the season, and sitting in first and second place in the table, it was apt that they faced each other in their last league match to see who would finish top.
From the start, the Renegades were determined to make their mark. The hosts won a penalty in the first two minutes and took an early three-point lead.
Newmarket flanker Matt Dyer then took an enormous hit on his shoulder and had to leave the pitch, with subsequent x-rays showing he has some broken bones.
At the restart, the visitors made a determined effort and were scrambling for the ball on the opposition’s five-metre line, but suddenly Renegades made a break and scored and converted a try.
Conceding another penalty, Newmarket found themselves 13-0 down by the mid-half point and things were looking a little ominous.
Just before half time, Michael Reeves kicked a penalty to get Newmarket’s first points of the match and end the half 13-3 behind.
Two key events helped the visitors at the start of the second half, playing with the wind and down a slight slope, as Michael Palmer took to the field.
The comeback gathered pace as Harry Robbins scored Newmarket’s first try to cut the home side’s lead to 13-8 with 30 minutes to play.
Newmarket’s next try came from an excellent scrum, as Dan Johnson charged over the line and Reeves’ boot helped them take the lead for the first time at 15-13.
Four minutes later, Robbins shot down the right wing and managed to stay in play and touch the ball down between the posts, with Reeves moving the score to 22-13.
Newmarket then entered a period of uncertainty, as Johnson was given a 10-minute breather by the referee and the Renegades took advantage of the extra man.
However, one of Newmarket’s key strengths this season is defence, and they stood firm to deny the Renegades.
Back to full strength, the visitors just needed to stand firm, but it was at this point the Renegades scored another try to close the gap to 22-18, with the try converted to leave Newmarket only two points ahead.
With four minutes to go, Newmarket were awarded a penalty and Reeves scored to make it 25-20 and close it out.
Both Newmarket and the Renegades will now go up against the top two clubs from the other Eastern Counties One divisions to decide who earns promotion.