Billed as a “relegation battle” was perhaps a little too premature but it did feel very uncomfortable. Nathan Crow and Luke Frixou got their first starts and Judah Simpson started on the bench. However, the saying that “it was game of two halves” was never a more a fitting description with the power and play switching in the second period.
Playing against the wind Syston made a good start and it was Derby who looked unsettled. The home side used their big front row to good effect in the tight and the break downs. In the first half hour, Syston had scored four tries and converted two of them. Five minutes later the “White Flag” of surrender was dramatically lowered when Gabriel Kajdy scored from a tremendous forward drive. The fuse had been ignited and Derby were denied a try on the half time whistle. It was the start of muscle power, spirit and team support play for Derby.
After the misery of the first half, Derby restarted with flowing rugby signified by a terrific run from defence by Callum Slater. With Syston’s centre Yellow carded for a deliberate Knock On, it was Luke Willmott who drove over from a lineout and Mc Grath Van Wyk added the conversion to halve the lead. Derby were back in the game and Sam Tebbs replaced Charlie Barker giving more mobility against a tiring pack. Ten minutes later good retained possession and passing saw Slater finish off in style. Van Wyk did well to convert against the wind nudging Derby to only five points behind. Yet again a strong run by Slater took the ball deep into the Syston half, where the forwards kept possession and Josh Bingham stretched for the line and a touch down to level the scores. Luke Willmott swapped positions with Nathan Crow from where he made a great break before off-loading to Kajdy who sprinted over for his second try. Van Wyk’s magic conversion put Derby seven points ahead. Forward pressure brought Syston a try reducing the deficit to two points. Simon Moon replaced Dan Hymans and was soon involved a Derby forward drive ending in a Martin Kent try. With nearly the last kick of the game Mc Grath Van Wyk kicked a penalty to seal a remarkable come back and victory giving Derby a much needed five points.
Derby will need some intensive training before meeting a much improved Doncaster side who “blew away” Burton at Peel Croft on Saturday.
Match Report by Gerry Sherry