1 April Colts NLD Report: Derby 31-33 Notts Corsairs

Derby entertained Notts Corsairs and after “The miracle at the Bay” this was a much-anticipated rematch, all the more so given a semi-final place in the NLD cup was at stake

With nine players unavailable, despite being unbeaten for seven games, Derby coaches and supporters could be forgiven for being slightly apprehensive as to how things would go.

However, one thing we have learnt this season is that whatever team Derby put out they don’t lack for commitment and will to win. This was yet another roller coaster of an afternoon which ultimately ended in a heartbreaking defeat as they lost 31-33 in the cruellest of circumstances.

Derby started the game at 100 miles an hour. A pinpoint kick-off by U16 and debutant Wilf Chenery was dropped under pressure by Notts Corsairs. Despite Andrew Harriot being driven back in the tackle he was able to present the ball and two phases later Archie Partridge was able to barrel his way over for the opening score. Showing no nerves Chenery made a difficult conversion look easy by calmly striking the ball through the middle of the posts.

Derby dominated the position for the next few minutes but despite being in the red zone they were unable to extend their lead. Then two simple passes from a scrum allowed the Corsairs number 13 through a gaping hole to run 65 metres to score. The conversion made it 7-7.
Now it was Corsair’s turn to take control. Moving the ball from coast to coast they constantly stressed Derby’s defence until they eventually scored another converted try to make it 7-14.

Derby were fortunate that things did not get worse as the Corsairs 13 streaked through again to score. Already over the line he decided to run round under the posts where the never say-die, Joe Acton, was able to chase back and force a knock on.

Having cleared their lines Derby were with the help of Corsairs ill discipline were able to launch a series of attacks deep in the Corsairs 22 which met with fierce resistance. Finally, Joe Acton moved the ball to the blindside allowing Will “nearly man” Peza Perry to crash over for a well-deserved score. Again Chenery converted from wide out.

Derby came again and after more pressure and several phases inside the Corsairs 22, number 8 Alex Clarke was able to step inside his defender and despite being turned onto his back managed to dot the ball down to score. From an almost identical position, Chenery pulled his conversion ever so slightly and it bounced back of the left upright. 19-14 to Derby. Half time.

Derby had a disastrous start to the second half. Corsairs number 13 made another break and a desperate tackle by young Wilf Chenery was deemed illegal by the referee and he was shown a yellow card. Then Corsairs scored in the right-hand corner and a magnificent conversion made it 19-21 to Corsairs.

Derby were not deterred and once again laid siege around the Corsairs 5m line, before after a series of tap penalties Joe Acton powered his way through several tackles to score near the posts. Chenery converted 26-21 to Derby.

Again Corsairs hit back. In an act of deja vu this time from a lineout, two simple passes allowed the number 13 (who else) to yet again sprint 50m to score under the posts. The conversion made it 26-28 to Corsairs.

With their own version of deja vu Derby set up camp on the Corsair 5m line and although they failed to get the ball to the unmarked Leo Mackenzie on the wing, eventually Sam Bowbanks forced his way over for a clear score.

Unfortunately, the referee was unsighted and after taking an eternity to come around to a better position the Corsairs players had managed to get their hands under the ball. A common sense suggestion from the crowd that the touch judge, who was in the perfect position, might be able to help was rejected by the referee and to compound Derby’s frustration the subsequent goal line drop out which went directly into touch was not recalled for a 5m scrum.

Things got even worse for Derby as Corsairs from a lineout close to the Derby line were able to break off to score an unconverted try. 26-33 to Corsairs.

Needing a converted score to take the game into extra time Derby produced their best impression of double deja vu. Back on the Corsairs 5m line they again forced Corsairs to concede numerous penalties. Finally, the referee’s patience snapped and after the hooker was sent to the bin Derby pounded the line until fullback Sam Smith produced a trademark 1m pickup and dot down over the line.

31 -33 to Corsairs, but a conversion to tie the scores. Agonisingly for Derby, Cherney pushed the conversion just wide of the righthand upright.
With four minutes left, Corsairs nearly scored but knocked on with the line begging. From the resulting scrum, Archie Murdock produced a mazy run to put winger Jake Smithson over the halfway line before he was tackled. Quick ball from the ruck saw a heavy carry from Sid Perrot and Corsairs looked there for the taking. Unfortunately, Corsairs managed to hold the ball up and form a maul in the next carry and from the resulting scrum were able to kick to touch to end the game.

Ecstasy for Corsairs and agony for a very spirited and far from disgraced Derby side. Congratulations to Corsairs, but Derby should be enormously proud of their effort.