An immense defensive display, led by prop, Bernie Lozowski, saw UNRL record their third win in a row and stretch their lead at the top of the National Midland League to three points with a 10-8 defeat of Loughborough.
For probably the first time this season, Nottingham dominated the opening exchanges of the game; it took twenty minutes for Loughborough to get out of their own half. The home side’s dominance in the tackle and territorially was transferred to the scoreboard after quarter of an hour as second row, Jack Mousley, cut a great line to barge his way over from fifteen yards to score his third try of the season. Just minutes later and another newcomer, centre Harry Buckley, scored on the other side of the green and white attack in almost identical fashion to give Nottingham a 10-0 lead going into half time. Loughborough had been overwhelmed by Nottingham’s ability to get three men in the tackle with Lozowski and Sam Andrews leading what was a ferocious defence.
The first-half had witnessed a Nottingham side with a full knowledge of their game plan and at ease with its execution; the second was not as idyllic. Loughborough appeared to be ripping the ball in two and three-man tackles – which is illegal in League – yet with the referee seemingly oblivious, the green and whites conceded knock on after knock on and possession upon possession, which allowed the away side back into the game. The penalty count also began to rack up against Nottingham which perhaps prevented them from dominating the tackle as they had done hitherto. Loughborough thus gained the quick ball necessary to stretch the home defence and some remarkable drift and last-ditch defence, most notably from centre, Matt Madden, and full-back supremo Adam Cunliffe was needed to hold the away side at bay. Loughborough did score two late tries to bring the score to 10-8, though they were forced to touch down in either corner which led to unsuccessful goal attempts.
To win with a below par second half against their closest rivals showed an ability to grind out the result but an eighty yard, weaving run from Cunliffe aside, Nottingham showed little in attack in the second forty and will have to improve for the title decider at Trent next week. And improve they will.
To cap off the finest day for UNRL in years, the 2nd XIII came back from 12-0 down to beat Birmingham 18-12 and now sit third in their league.
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Nottingham 1sts: Cunliffe; Baker, Buckley, Madden, Goodwin; Butcher (c), Cook; Lozowski, Foulkes, Dillamore; Andrews, Swann; Skeens; Mousley, Lindsay, Crummay, Barretta.
Tries: Mousley, Buckley.