Derby travelled to Liberty Way, after the match passed a morning pitch inspection, on a freezing cold, but dry day.
Adam Parkins, Tom Taylor Dawes, Ryan Manning and Ollie Saffell all returned to the starting XV as Derby looked to bounce back from a defeat against Newport last week.
Nuneaton kicked off, but it was Derby who dominated the opening exchanges but had only a missed penalty kick to show for their efforts.
Derby did take the lead after 20 minutes, having kept the ball through multiple phases; Ben Marlow took the final pass and scored his 8th try of the season.
Derby’s lead did not last long, 4 minutes in fact !
With their first meaningful possession of the game, Nuneaton created the space to score a try in the corner. A Nuneaton penalty after 27 minutes took them into the lead.
Derby continued to dominate possession and territory and 2 tries in the final 7 minutes of the half meant the score at the break reflected this.
Tom Taylor-Dawes scored both tries. The first came when the forwards drove Nuneaton back over their own line.
The second came from a flowing move, including an excellent break from Ryan Manning, ending when Tom Taylor-Dawes took the final pass to score.
George Castledine converted both tries and Derby went into the break 19 – 8 ahead. The travelling support felt Derby looked like they were in position to go on and win the game. How wrong they were !
It was Nuneaton who showed more in the second half and scored after only 4 minutes. A poor clearing kick was taken and then the winger carved through the Derby defence before finding men free outside him. Converted try.
The gap was narrowed to 1 point after 55 minutes, when Nuneaton kicked a penalty.
Derby extended the lead after 63 minutes. Tom Taylor-Dawes won a line out. The ball was fed to the backs and Ben Marlow burst through before sending McGrath Van Wyk free to score his 7th try of the season.
That was as good as it got for Derby.
9 minutes remained when, not for the first time, they lost the ball when in possession allowing Nuneaton to sweep upfield and score.
6 minutes later, a spell of Nuneaton pressure led to a converted try which gave them the lead.
Derby were camped on the Nuneaton line when the final whistle went and all Derby had to show for their efforts were 2 league points, for scoring 4 tries and finishing within 7 points of the winners.
Peterborough Lions visit Haslams next week as the first game of the second half of the season.
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra
Photographs of the Nuneaton v Derby game can be viewed in the gallery section of the e4creative photography website www.e4creative-photography.co.uk/galleries/gallery/09122017-nuneaton-1st-xv-v-derby-1st-xv/