Nottingham Outlaws fell to a third straight defeat away at New Earswick All Blacks with a 36-16 loss.
The Outlaws team showed seven changes from the match against East Hull, with Jimmy Goodwin, Ollie Perry and Mike Hyatt returning, Sam Morris and Alan Morrison making their debuts, while Dave Ivemey and Joe Shepherd were late additions following two late injuries.
The match began in testing conditions as heavy rain and strong winds swept the pitch. Outlaws adapted quickest to the conditions, forcing an error in the home twenty and then a drop out, before on the following set James Hood came back against the grain to power his way over from close in to give Outlaws a 0-4 lead. As the rain eased, New Earswick began to show more of their slick handling skills as sharp passing enabled them to score two quickfire tries and take a 10-4 lead.
Again, strong Outlaws tackling forced the error to gain good field position, and from the resulting pressure were able to get over the whitewash. Jimmy Goodwin seemed to be getting pushed into touch in the corner, but despite the presence of four defenders was somehow able to find the offload back inside for George Strachan to dive over. Adam Cunliffe added an excellent conversion from out wide to level things at 10-10. As half time approached, New Earswick repeatedly threatened, but some excellent scramble defence prevented any further scores and the teams went in tied.
At half time Outlaws shuffled their pack, with Alan Morrison and Stew Readhead entering the fray up front. The second half started superbly for the Outlaws, with strong defence again forcing an error from the home side, and from the resulting set Alex Whittle was able to step through the line before holding off the full back to score, with Cunliffe goaling for 10-16.
As the half wore on New Earswick began to take control as repeated errors gifted them field position, and only strong defending kept them out. However, the home side finally made the breakthrough with three quickfire tries to take a decisive 24-16 lead. In an effort to stem the tide, the coaching staff brought on the experienced heads Ivemey and Shepherd, but by now the defence was tiring and New Earswick were full of confidence, exhibiting some excellent handling to add two more tries for a final score of 36-16.
Loose forward Alex Whittle bagged the man-of-the-match award for an all-action display featuring tremendous work-rate throughout. Coach George Strachan was in contemplative mood at the final whistle, commenting “it’s another winnable game that got away from us at the end. Credit to New Earswick – they punished us at the end. But the positive thing from my perspective is that we were still well in the game at the 60 minute mark. The challenge for us now is being able to close those games out and start winning them.”
The Outlaws will dust themselves down as they host Cutsyke Raiders at Lenton Lane next Saturday, which could potentially determine which side finishes at the foot of the table this season.