New Milton pip Ellingham & Ringwood in tense derby
New Milton RFC 18
Ellingham & Ringwood RFC 13
NEW Milton defeated local rivals Ellingham & Ringwood to claim the bragging rights after a back-and-forth contest in front of a large crowd at Norman's Way.
In a low-scoring match, the lead changed three times with the scores level for most of the final quarter. Finally, however, New Milton found a winning try in the last five minutes.
The game started brightly for New Milton, who spent the opening 20 minutes encamped in the visitors' half after receiving the ball from the kick-off. Ellingham defended doggedly, but eventually Jack Harris made a break before passing to Nathan Smith to round the defence for a try, converted by Adam Lavis.
Ellingham responded immediately, and some good link-up play brought the visitors within the hosts' 22-metre line. Eventually the pressure told, and New Milton gave away a penalty which Andrew Kingsland kicked to reduce the deficit.
Intelligent work from the boot of Ellingham's fly-half Archie Cockayne pushed New Milton back. Then, from a penalty and ensuing line-out, E&R drove over the try-line, with Callum Butler scoring.
With the half-time whistle approaching, a succession of New Milton penalties gave them an attacking platform in the E&R 22. However, after failing to find a way through the defence, New Milton's Lavis kicked one between the posts to reduce the deficit to 10-8 in the visitors' favour.
Ellingham started the second half strongly, with relentless pressure. With New Milton looking to run the ball out of their 22, Butler intercepted a looping pass to crash over for his second try.
E&R's period of control began to ebb, and a New Milton scrum led to a pass out to Joe Eldridge, who broke through the defence before being stopped within touching distance of the try-line. However, E&R ill-discipline allowed Lavis to level the match at 13-all with a penalty kick.
Ellingham's Will Maw made his long-awaited return from a severe injury, but his return lasted around 20 seconds after receiving a yellow card.
New Milton then took over and, with five minutes left, they gained possession from another scrum just inside the E&R 22. With a brilliant kick to the try-line, Tom Gould raced on to the ball before quick hands moved it from Lavis to Callum Wood, who scored the winning try.