Lincoln men’s first team suffered an agonising 24-21 away defeat after Connor Bice crossed for a late try to snatch victory for Newark.
The visitors played well for spells showing confidence with ball in hand, but ultimately discipline let them down against their near neighbours, who they had beaten 29-11 in last season’s corresponding fixture.
Newark put early pressure on the Lincoln defence before opening the scoring through Matt Cox’s penalty after 15 minutes.
Lincoln responded well as great work by Richie Dixon set up James Kirk, who dodged and weaved through the defence to run in for a try which he also converted.
Newark reduced the deficit through another Cox penalty before Lincoln hit back with a converted try. Will Scammell did superbly well to keep the ball in play before offloading for Joe Moore to run in for a try, which Kirk converted.
Tempers spilled over between both sets of players in a tense end to the first half, but the incident somehow ended in no cards being shown by the referee. However, a Newark player was sent to the sin bin soon after as Lincoln took a 14-6 lead in at the break.
Cox slotted over his third penalty for Newark before Lincoln extended their lead to 12 points with a converted try.
A clever cross kick by Kirk was superbly caught by Josh Pratt before the winger stepped his opposite number to sprint in for a try. Kirk added the extras.
Newark reduced the deficit through another Cox penalty before Lincoln forward Grant Cowe was shown a yellow card.
Newark soon took advantage of having an extra man as substitute Bice crossed for a try in the corner, which Cox converted.
Bice made a decisive impact for Newark in the closing minutes of the match when he dived over in the corner for the match-winning try.
Lincoln piled the pressure on Newark and were camped near the opposition’s try line late on, but they couldn’t find a way over as the hosts held on for a tense victory.
After the match Lincoln’s 1st XV head coach Rhuari Pike, whose side host Ashbourne on Saturday, said: “It was frustrating and discipline cost us the game. Penalties we gave away kept them in it, however, onwards and upwards and onto the next game.”
Lincoln’s man-of-the-match Jack Miles and fellow youngster Kodi Strand crossed for tries as the Imps XV pushed near neighbours Newark all the way in a narrow 15-13 home defeat.
After the match player manager Brad Nixon, who kicked a penalty for the hosts, said: “We should have been more physical and dominant, but it wasn’t to be.
“All we can do is move forward and try and build on the positives from the game. A massive push is needed for the final leg of the season to get some much needed points.”
Lincoln’s 3rd XV lost against Mansfield, but they will be looking to return to winning ways at home against Nottingham Casuals on Saturday.
OTHER RESULTS Elsewhere in the county, leaders Scunthorpe won 17-15 against Luctonians in the Midlands Premier thanks to tries from Ollie Collie and Will Robinson. Paul Cook added two conversions and a penalty.
In Midlands Two East (North) Market Rasen & Louth suffered a surprise 18-3 defeat at bottom club Southwell, with their points coming via a Tom Alldridge penalty.
Both Lincolnshire sides secured victories in Midlands Three East (South) – Bourne won 31-3 at Birstall, while Stamford beat Dunstablians 25-12.
Tries from Rob and Dave Titmus and Shaun Fisher helped Sleaford to an 18-15 victory over Mansfield in Midlands Three East (North). Dan Mackie also added a penalty for the hosts.
Kesteven lost 36-29 at Spalding, with Dan Turner crossing for two of the visitors’ tries. Adam Draper and Aaron Whittaker grabbed a try apiece, with Martyn Parker kicking three conversions and a penalty.
In Midlands Four East (North) Boston secured their seventh league win in a row with a 28-22 against league leaders East Retford. Charles Hughes, Harry Woods, Alex Hough and Jaron Cowern grabbed a try apiece, with Matt Bray adding two penalties and a conversion. Kyle Turley’s four tries helped Boston’s 2nd XV to a 77-10 win at Mellish.
Second-placed Cleethorpes won 27-18 at Chesterfield Panthers thanks to tries from Alex Nabais, Dan McDaid and Mike Burton. Joe Barker added a try and kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Paul Bud, Samuel Cooke, Ryan Carr and Mark Munton grabbed the tries as North Hykeham won 28-5 away at Worksop. Josh Dandy kicked two penalties and one conversion.
Tom Roberts crossed for two tries as Grimsby won 27-7 at Skegness. Dougie Clough and Matt Pettiford grabbed a try apiece, with Brad Treacher kicking two conversions and a penalty. Jamie Cameron scored a try and conversion for Skegness. Gainsborough lost 43-0 at Amber Valley.