Stamford RFC progressed to the semi-finals of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup with a hard fought 27-12 win over Kesteven under the floodlights at Hambleton Road on Tuesday night.
Stamford scored four tries through Tom Gulland, Matt Helstrip,James Green and David Bushrod to put Kesteven to the sword.
The 13 point difference between the sides hides the true story of a closely contended match which was in the balance for much of the encounter.
Despite Stamford making all the early running it was Kesteven, who are second in Midlands 3 East North, who took the early lead, scoring a converted try through their winger who showed good pace to beat the scrambling cover defence by Town.
Town responded by going on the attack, staying camped in the opposition 22 but looked rattled under the defensive pressure being applied on them by the visitors who were fast out the line to get right in Stamford’s faces when they received the ball and forced errors.
The frustration boiled over when skipper Matt Albinson was given a warning by the referee when he clashed with the opposition.
Stamford got on the board through the boot of Tom Lindly after Kesteven cynically failed to roll away from the ruck when number eight Joe Allen burst off the back of the scrum and was felled just short of the line.
With confidence growing the home side then scored the try of the match. Winning the ball against the head in the scrum, it was quickly spread wide to centre Austin Schwarz who took the ball to the line hard before beautifully spreading it wide to Tom Gulland who showed stunning pace to race in from more than 40 metres out. Lindly added the conversion.
Town then extended their lead with a display of forward power, using a driving maul to make inroads into the Kesteven 22 before prop Matt Helstrip, on as a replacement for Cameron Park, burst over the line with his first touch of the game. Lindly was unable to add the extras.
Kesteven showed real spirit at the start of the second half to pressurise Stamford. But for a great last ditch tackle by Lindly the green-shirted visitors, who were beginning to find holes in Town’s defence, would have been through for a try.
Stamford were holding on and when scrum half Robbie Smith was shown yellow for not rolling away at the ruck after the team had persistently offended, it looked like a matter of time before Town would concede.
Kesteven did cross the line, however the referee called back the play after he was informed by a touch judge that a Kesteven player had stepped into touch during the build up.
Back to full strength Stamford responded with two counter-attacking tries from deep in their own half. Firstly Lindly took the ball on the edge of his 22, pinning his ears back he sped down field, linking up with prop James Green, who found winger Dan McFadden who raced 60 yards down field to be hauled down just short of line, but not before he found the supporting Green who crossed the line. Lindly’s conversion missed off the upright.
Replacement David Bushrod score the homeside’s final try, benefiting from supporting centre Chris Fletcher when he darted through a hole in the centres. Lindly converted.
Kesteven had the last say, scoring a consolation try in the dying moments but it will be Stamford who march on to the next round.
Stamford second row Dan Griffin was the standout performer on the night, carrying well and tackling well to hack down Kesteven’s big runners.
Stamford’s next match is at home against Northampton Men’s Own tomorrow afternoon.