Rugby Union: Newbury play the professional card

Camberley 10 Newbury 11
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The Independent Online
This wasn't so much David and Goliath as David and David. It became clear that Newbury, the only team to beat London Welsh in the Jewson National League One this season, had the professional edge if only because they changed their jerseys for a fresh kit at half-time.

Conditions, alternating between sunshine, torrential rain and a Siberian wind, dictated that this Tetley's Bitter Cup fourth-round tie would be a campaign of attrition and for long periods it resembled nothing so much as the Eton Wall Game.

Camberley, the front runners in Division Two South, only a notch below Newbury, did remarkably well to stage the match on a wide open space called the Watchetts Recreation Ground. Much to Camberley's frustration, it is owned by the council and there is nothing so pretentious as a grandstand.

Up to a thousand people shivered on the touchlines, occasionally yelling at players they had no hope of identifying. They think the attendance was in the region of 1,000 although there is no surefire way of knowing. Camberley RFC are not allowed to charge an entrance fee at the gate. For one thing, there is no gate.

They recoup by selling programmes which incorporate the admission. However, as Watchetts Rec is a public park, anybody can wander over the blasted heath.

Newbury, coached by the former Gloucester coach Keith Richardson, just about deserved to go into the hat for tomorrow's fifth-round draw. With Colin Hall, formerly of London Irish, a dominant figure in the line-out, they possessed the stronger pack. But the Squirrels, as Camberley are known, refused to be trampled underfoot.

For long spells Newbury set up camp on the Camberley line without breaking down an heroic defence. The only try of the first half came from the Newbury left-wing, Tom Holloway, who made the best of an overlap and did well to stay on his feet as he gingerly negotiated his way through the glorious mud. With Nick Grecian kicking two penalties, Newbury led 11-3 at half- time.

Brian Johnson, the wing who has joined Gloucester, marked his last appearance for Newbury by dropping a try-scoring pass and injury prevented him from reappearing in the second half.

After weathering a battering, Camberley found the strength to launch a counter- attack in the dying stages and were rewarded with a penalty try as Newbury fell persistently offside.

Greg Way's conversion reduced the deficit to a point, although the Camberley stand-off was probably kicking himself for missing a relatively simple penalty in the eighth minute. Even so, Camberley might still have snatched victory in injury time when Mitch Hoare broke from full-back, but his kick ahead failed to clear Grecian, who was a lone sentry.

The compensation for Camberley - their players, unlike Newbury's, are paid expenses only - is that they will be back at the Watchetts Rec today for another cup-tie. They meet Sutton and Epsom in the Surrey Cup. No wonder they didn't change their jerseys at half-time.

Camberley: M Hoare; J Marsh, P MacAlister, B Stafford, M Ebongaime; G Way, C Greville; G Walker, S Davies, S Anderson (J Flowers, 60), R Ticehurst (capt), G Hamer, D Scott, C Eke, M Pepper.

Newbury: N Grecian; B Johnson (R Abernethy, 40), R Osman, T Osman, T Holloway; M Davis, B Wakfer; S Stewart, J Brammer (capt), N Collins (M Hobley, 63), C Hall, A Duke, J Kingdom, C Davies, A Dawling.

Referee: T Miller (London).

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