Derby welcomed Jared Parkinson, Luke Frixou, Charlie Barker, McGrath Van Wyk and Andy Brown back to the starting XV for the visit of 2nd place Newport.
Derby kicked off on a grey, overcast but dry winter day and almost scored after 2 minutes when George Campbell just failed to reach a George Castledine kick.
Newport lost their full back to the sin bin, after 9 minutes, but Derby were unable to take advantage of the extra man. In fact, it was Newport who came closest to scoring, when they were held up over the Derby line, after 15 minutes.
Derby took the lead after 26 minutes. The ball was kept through a number of phases and Josh Tizard gave an inside pass to Sam Tebbs who went over from close range, for his 5th try of the season. George Castledine converted, to put Derby 7 points clear.
Newport hit back immediately, with a try of their own, in the corner, to narrow the gap.
3 minutes before the break, a good Newport move led to a try in the other corner and the lead.
Just before the break, Derby hit back. A poor Newport clearing kick found Ben Marlow, 5 metres from the try line. The only way for Newport to stop him was illegally; Penalty try, 7 points and the Newport flanker yellow carded.
There was time for Newport to kick off, Derby conceded a penalty and Newport kicked 3 points, leaving the half time score 14 – 13 to Derby.
The scoreline reflected a close battle, with both sides believing they could go on and win the game.
The start of the 2nd half would be crucial and it was Newport who struck twice in the opening 16 minutes. The first score was a penalty and this was followed by a converted try, after a catch and drive from a line-out.
This left Derby 9 points behind and they almost hit back immediately. Sam Tebbs claimed the kick-off and drove up to the line. The ball was recycled and McGrath Van Wyk was unable to exert enough downward pressure on the chip through.
With 7 minutes remaining, Ryan Manning almost scored, but was held up over the Newport line, 3 minutes later Derby had the try their pressure deserved. The ball went down the line and Ben Marlow’s pass put Ryan Manning in for a try.
The gap was now 4 points, with 4 minutes left. Both sides kept trying to score, but were unable to do so before the final whistle brought an absorbing contest to a close.
Derby claim 1 league point, for finishing within 7 points, and showed how far they have improved over the last few seasons, by pushing an impressive Newport side all the way. Every player contributed, both in attack and defence and not a backward step was taken !
A trip to Nuneaton next week !
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra
Photographs of the Derby v Newport (Salop) game can be viewed in the galleries section on the e4creative photography website at www.e4creative-photography.co.uk/galleries/gallery/02122017-derby-1st-xv-v-newport-salop-1st-xv