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Season to remember for Meden Vale RFC

Posted onPosted on 29th May

Meden Vale RFC ended the 2022/2023 season as runners-up in both the league and NLD Vase.

They amassed more than 600 points in all competitions and played a brand of rugby that was powerful and robust through the forwards, yet subtle and often dazzling through the backs.

Barrie Stoutt and Andrew Cullington reflected on the past year, which included a difficult start to the season that saw Vale play the first five matches without a recognised front row — with both Richard Preston and Joe Hodgkinson stepping up and performing admirably against much more experienced opposition.

A slow start to the Counties 3 Midlands East (N) East league programme saw narrow wins as Vale steadily grew in confidence.

Into the new year Vale were gradually closing the gap on eventual winners Newark.

Further injuries to key players such as Jordan Duffus and Matt Thom hindered the Vale surge, but the introduction of some of Ross Emery’s juniors — Bayley Sylvester, Ben Whitey, Brandon Eaton, Fin Carter, Olly Rose, Kalen Emery and Charlie Lilley — helped to maintain momentum, but it was not quite enough to earn Vale top sot.

The last game of the season was against Keyworth in the final of the NLD Vase, a renewal of old rivalries between the two sides that saw Vale triumph three times in pre-covid cup finals.

A strong support created a good atmosphere at Newark, where Keyworth started well by playing through their pacey outside backs and scoring two early trys and a conversion for a 12-0 lead.

A Ricky Geeson penalty gave Vale their first three points of the final and soon after a fabulous try from inspirational skipper Brad Rhodes brought the scores back to 12-10.

Vale thought they had taken the lead before a try was ruled out.

To add to their frustration, Keyworth extended the lead to 17-10 before Vale had another try disallowed.

Soon after half-time penalties were traded before Geeson powered through the Keyworth defence and brought Vale back to within two points at 18-20.

Keyworth added a converted try, while Danny Booth replied after good work by William Murphy and Jake Berryman.

Hot conditions, however, began to take their toll on the Vale pack, although a fine try-saving tackle by Callum Murphy helped Vale maintain their resistance until the final whistle in a 35-25 defeat.

Barrie Stout and Andrew Cullington thanked their sponsors and supporters, as well as Media Sport Photography and Rob Callum Roe fotr covering matches and capturing special moments for many players.

They added: “Most of all we would like to thank everyone who pulled on a shirt for Meden Vale RFC this season. We lost two stalwarts of the club in 2023; we think both Ross Emery and Nigel Baxter would have been extremely proud of the way the club has played and conducted itself throughout the season.”

Anyone who wants to be a part of Meden Vale RFC, whether as a player, member, sponsor or supporter, is invited to join the club.