Derby were warmly welcomed by Paviors for their first game of the NLD transitional group and Derby’s second.
Derby made some positional changes, giving different players the opportunity to play in their preferred position and with some enforced due to unavailability or injury.
Derby had 2 props unavailable and the lack of experienced props available resulted in uncontested scrums from the start. The focus of the games continues to be developing players on their journey into senior rugby.
Derby were put under pressure from the start with Paviors sheer size dominating the early exchange in the forwards and crisp passing in the backs exposing some defensive frailties. Derby’s scramble defence was being continually stretched and ultimately this was to prove too much with Paviors scoring two well worked tries in the first quarter one of which was converted.
Derby had their moments and a combination of good Paviors defence and Derby handling errors in open play and at set piece was to be Derby’s downfall.
An early injury to Will Falkner, Derby’s captain and open side flanker seemed to disrupt our defence and focus.
During this period Derby decided to take a penalty kick between the sticks which Kris Powell was successful with and brought them back in touch for a while 12 -3.
For the remaining part of the first half Derby were exposed out wide with the only respite being a Paviors player being yellow carded for a late tackle on the Derby 10, Eddie McAteer.
Derby’s defence was found to be a little too narrow which Paviors recognised and ran in 3 easy tries out wide with simple passing down the line resulting in an overlap.
The team talk at half time was to be a turning point, a couple of positional changes were made to try and keep our shape and plug some gaps and focusing on what we were doing well.
The change was to be rewarding for Derby with the now dominant forwards making steady progress round the fringes with George Borzykh, Jim Hather and Toby Green making powerful runs and at times superb interplay with forwards and backs combining well.
Following a good break and the forward picking and going and keeping the ball alive, Ed Howe managed to cleverly dive through the middle of defence and just make the touch down which was easily converted by Kris Powell.
By now all the play was from Derby who were keeping the game tight and pressuring the fringes at every opportunity.
Following a further line break and interplay by the forwards Toby Green produced a real moment of skill using footwork and a step before contact enabling him to break clear of the tiring Paviors defence and managed to put the ball down under the post, making the conversion by Kris Powell an easy formality.
If the game had lasted any longer Derby would have made more inroads into the Paviors lead.
Ultimately it was not to be with Paviors deservedly taking the spoils after winning the first half comfortably 29-3 leaving Derby too much to do in the second half.
A much improved performance by the team developing solutions posed by a good Paviors team saw Derby winning the second half by 14-0.
Final score Paviors 29 v 17 Derby.
Match Report by Sean Hather