Stamford push the leaders all the way

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Northampton BBOB 27 Stamford 20

STAMFORD came close to causing an upset at leaders Northampton BBOB on Saturday.

BBOB had not conceded a single point at home during the first half of the season and Stamford were determined to end their record. And after leading 10-3 at the interval, Stamford pushed BBOB all the way and but for some poor execution at critical times, could have snatched the result.

The match started at a frantic pace and although Stamford had a far lighter pack, especially the front row, they played the more intelligent rugby at the set piece and through the backs. They forced the opposition to give away numerous penalties and Tom Lindley duly slotted when in range.

A good try from Harry Offer left Stamford 10-3 ahead at the break.

However, BBOBs fought back in the second half to lead 27-13 with ten minutes left to play at which point they appeared to run out of steam.

Stamford’s superior fitness drove them back on the offensive with Jack Eifion-Jones stopped just five yards short after taking a quick penalty.

Oli Story, not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, picked from the base of the ruck and drove through to score.

At the restart Stamford were determined to keep the ball alive and play through the phases to draw the game but BBOB held on to survive 27-20.

Stamford play Northampton Casuals at home tomorrow (2.15pm).

St Ives 49 Stamford College Old Boys 0

COLLEGE Old Boys just scraped a team together on Saturday against one of the toughest sides in their league.

Temporary changing rooms, howling winds and an uphill slope in the first half gave the Old Boys the sort of challenges they relish, and they certainly got stuck in from the off.

College had a good share of the possession in the first half and looked dangerous in attack without reward. But their defence was continually pressed by the opposition who were very well drilled and St Ives scored three tries before half time.

College still felt that there were tries and league points to be won and started the second half full of confidence – too much confidence perhaps as a mistake led to a quick try for the opposition.

Things got tougher as injuries took their toll and players had to leave the field, highlighting the importance of needing a full squad on a big match day.

Despite the scoreline there were plenty of positives to take out of the game for the team. The College scrum won a lot of opposition ball and there were strong performances from all players, in particular man of the match Adam Ireland, who excelled in attack with one particularly dazzling run.

Stamford COB: Tony Gosney, John Hickman, Carl Walker, Paul Wright, Andy Emmins, Gavin Moss, John Hume, James Tindall, Steve Briggs, Adam Ireland, Duncan De Salis, Aled Jones, Phil Young, Adam Chapman, Dan Wilby.

Ashbourne 11 Oakham 15

THE Oaks won their opening fixture of 2012 but without the bonus point that could prove crucial in the race for promotion at the end of the season.

Oakham beat Ashbourne 15-11 with Mark Matthews and Will Armstrong both scoring tries but with Market Bosworth picking up a bonus point at Aylestone, the gap between second and third has opened to eight points.

“It was not a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination,” said coach Adam Copperwheat.

On a sticky, boggy pitch Oakham fell behind early on but soon responded with a try scored and converted by Matthews.

Ashbourne kicked to within a point and then took advantage of sloppy Oakham defending to score a try themselves and open up an 11-7 lead. But Matthews kicked Oakham to within a point and with 20 minutes remaining Armstrong crossed over for Oakham’s second try.

The final period of the game became a backs-to-the-wall effort from Oakham, who were repeatedly penalised for infringements. After only conceding half a dozen penalties in the previous 60 minutes, they gave away 16 in the space of 20 minutes.

Among the trio of cards for Oakham was another for Tom Armstrong, whose uncompromising style of tackling is fast earning a fearsome reputation. But his coach defended him saying: “I have no trouble with the way he tackles. We need someone like that. He doesn’t tackle late or high but he does tackle hard.”

Oakham: Adam Price, Rhys Grieve, Ryan Corner, James Cooper, Henry Penny, Martin Stimson, Theo Morgan, Angus Boyle, Adam Varley, Mark Matthews, Corey Archard, Tom Armstrong, Tom Burton, James Harrison, Will Armstrong. Reps: Demo Gonsalves, Richard Pocock, James Padley.