In a low-key, low-scoring affair, Gainsborough had to be content with a draw when they kicked off the new rugby union season in the Midlands 5 East (North) division.
With the Rugby World Cup off to a flying start, the All Blacks were keen to make a big impression against visitors Nottinghamians. But their normal venue was out of action, so the match had to be switched to the Gainsborough Academy. And on a warm day, the action was interrupted by numerous water breaks.
As a result, the game rarely flowed and there was little for the spectators to get excited about in a 5-5 stalemate.
Led by captain for the day Andy Turner Guest, Gainsborough started the opening half well and had an early chance at goal with a penalty that, sadly, missed its target.
The home side went on to dominate the first period, especially through their forwards. Excellent scrummaging and line-out play meant they had most of the territory possesion in the opposition’s half. And yet it was Nottinghamians who broke away to run in the first try with 26 minutes on the clock.
Gainsborough continued to make a large quantity of terrific tackles, while good defensive work helped them keep the game tight and reduce the amount of space the visitors had to play with.
The first half still ended with Nottinghamians five points to the good. But the All Blacks picked up the intensity again at the start of the second period and were soon rewarded by getting on the scoresheet when their man-of-the-match, Grant Bell, ran over the line for a try.
The subsequent conversion failed to hit the target, which left the game very much up for grabs for the remainder of the half.
Both teams went hard for the win, but Gainsborought were forced to face a tense final five minutes when Will Cawte was sin-binned. Thankfully, they saw it out well, defending doggedly.
Gainsborough’s next league fixture is this Saturday away to Ollerton. Their next home match is on Saturday, October 10 when they entertain Skegness.
A trip to Barton and District follows on October 24, and then comes a home match against Bingham on November 7, followed by an away game at Creswell Crusaders on November 21.