Nottingham Moderns 1st XV 10 Mannerians 1st XV 25
MANNERIANS played enough quality rugby to win this encounter down by the Trent.
The Bakewell pack was boosted by the return of mighty Mike Dabell, whose comeback record now rivals that of Frank Sinatra, and whose presence meant the combined age of the front row was 120.
Dabell had a fine match; his scrummaging prowess helped Mannerians dominate that facet throughout.
Good running from Alisdair Crawford, Rob Wells and Ben Sizer earned a ruck in the home ’22, Ethan Bagshawe flipped the ball to Dabell and he hurtled towards the startled Moderns.
This occupied a lot of defenders, creating the merest gap for Sean Driscoll to crash over and score.
The home side responded with some good play of their own, stretching the visitors, and only incessant tackling, led by Man of the Match James Turner and co, kept Moderns at bay.
The onslaught resisted, Mannerians returned to the attack. Tom Oldfield burst up his wing; Rob Wells was up in support and Chris Keetley squeezed over in the corner.
Moderns kept the visitors out for the rest of the half, then broke away to score a converted try and a penalty to level the scores.
But the Bakewell side, cajoled by ringmaster Moroney, kept their territorial position. Turner and Sizer took the ball forward, Bagshawe passed to the skipper and Daniel Driscoll took a flat pass to scamper over from 30 metres.
Moroney added a conversion and shortly after boosted his tally with a well-taken drop goal.
As the clock ran down, Mannerians broke away through Bagshawe and O’Neill.
Then came a searing break by Jake Ward. Tom Oldfield was looming in support, and a perfectly weighted pass gave him the advantage he needed to leave the defence for dead and execute a Chris Ashton inspired swallow-dive into the corner. Moroney’s narrowly missed conversion was to be the final play in a valuable win for his team.
Manager Joe Oldfield was full of praise for his team. “I think that, considering the number of changes we’d been forced to make, that was an excellent performance.
“Moderns are never an easy team to beat and they are capable of beating anyone on their day.”
He went on to single out a few individuals. “It takes a big performance to beat Ben Sizer to the Man of the Match award – so it’s a mark of James’s efforts that he achieved just that. Fantastic.”
Oldfield continued: “A special mention goes to Mike Dabell; he didn’t just make up the numbers, he brought genuine quality to the effort and the scrum was a key factor in our success. I’m confident of persuading him to play every week now. “