Stamford RFC bowed out of the Midlands Senior Vase at the hands of last year’s champons Stourbridge Lions on Saturday.
The visitors proved formidable opposition at Empingham Road holding on to win the semi-final 17-12 despite a rousing, dominant display from Stamford in the second half.
Lions’ heavy pack forced Stamford back in the first half, controlling good territory and rarely allowing Stamford to spread the ball through the three-quarters.
After clearing their lines several times, Stamford’s defence was finally breached by a good overlap in the corner, wide on Stourbridge’s right, after 15 minutes.
The conversion was missed, setting the tome for an afternoon of failed kicks including one from each side that came back off an upright.
Stourbridge doubled their lead, capitalising on the weight of their forwards to force the ball over the line.
Matt Jane gave the home side renewed hope just before the interval, diving over in the corner after Stamford had spread the ball across the full width of the pitch.
Stourbridge led 10-5 at half-time but were sustained pressure in the second half, extending their lead with a converted try on the break when Stamford missed a series of tackles.
Often this season, Stamford’s greater fitness has allowed them to fight back but on this occasion they found a stubborn Lions wall difficult to break down.
In the dying minutes Stamford scored a converted try after a rare error in the Lions’ rearguard but it was too late to build momentum from that and Stamford’s Twickenham dream was over.
Stamford: James Green, Cathal McHugh, Oli Story, Jake Wilkins, James Ragg, Tom Wire, Tom Gulland, Bruce Parker, Matt Albinson, Will Mardling, Harry Offer, Tom Lindley, Austin Schwarz, Matthew Jane, Robbie Smith. Reps: Ross Cutteridge, Cameron Park, Etahn Moss.
Stamford’s next match is at home to Stewarts and Lloyds, who moved to the summit of the Midlands 3 East (South) table while Stamford were in cup action last weekend. Kick off on Saturday is at 2.15pm.