Stamford College Old Boys are victorious in Midlands 4 East (South) clash at Wellingborough Old Grammarians
Stamford College Old Boys added another convincing win to their tally for the season with a comfortable victory at Wellingborough Old Grammarians on Saturday.
The last time these two sides locked horns had seen College travel with just 14 players for the March meeting between the clubs.
Fast forward seven months and the College this time had the luxury of a bench to call upon which, in games gone by already this season, has been a huge advantage to the team during the latter stages of their games.
With rain battering down, College immediately took the game to the home side with some huge impact running from the forwards.
With a really heavy pitch underfoot, every inch was a crucial gain. The game exchanged territories and possession for around 15 minutes as attackers of both teams were met with colossal tackles with neither team giving a yard.
It wasn’t until 15 minutes into the game that the first points were scored, the referee judged some illegal play at the bottom of a ruck and the penalty went in favour of the home team.
A simple kick in front of the posts was deemed the best option for the home side as they were faltering at both the line-out and scrums. It proved to be the right play though as the kick went over to make the score 3-0.
With no reason to panic, the College set about their game plan again. Having the momentum within loose play and dominating at the scrummage, the forwards were able to give scrum half Flanders an excellent platform to base Old Boys’ attacks.
And, with great distribution, the midfield of Greenslade and Durman were able to pinpoint holes within the home team’s defensive line.
However, as resilient as ever during the half, there was no way through despite the dangerous running from wingers Houston and Chapman.
This was until a scrum on the visiting team’s 10 metre line was turned over by the hook of Twose and the ball found its way to the feet of flanker Morgan who set off down the blindside with real speed and determination.
He had worked his way up the opposition half before being dragged down at the 22m line, but a few phases from the forwards later saw a big overlap for the backs to attack.
An excellent covering tackle from the home full-back slowed the play down just in front of their own try line, but the forwards then took back control with numerous pick and go’s.
The ball was recycled back to the man who started the attack and Morgan found his way over the line for a fine try. Johns was able to kick his first points of the day to make the score 3-7.
Receiving the kick-off, College again set about making their way up the pitch using both forwards and backs to gain territory.
After some solid pressure, the away side could feel another score coming and within minutes the ball was calmly but commandingly passed down the line and, when Carl Brierley-Lewis had straightened his run, he managed to cut through the defenders before being caught by the retreating winger.
However, with the smallest flick of the wrist, he was able to offload the ball with such finesse into John’s hands and set him free under the posts.
Unfortunately in the eyes of the referee it had been judged as a forward pass and play was brought back for a scrum which was a huge let off for the home team.
Johns was, however, able to get his reward just moments before the end of the first half.
With Wellingborough deep in their own half, a clearance kick was scuffed right into the hands of Johns who managed to weave his way through a broken defensive line and cross the line for his 14th try of the season. He added his own points to make the score 3-14 at half-time.
During the team talk coaches Carl Walker and Jon Duncan were positive, however, there were some very small things that were left lacking in the first half.
So, with the wrongs being righted, changes were rung In the form of Shepherd for Darlington in the second row, try scorer Morgan was replaced with Harker who dropped into hooker pushing James Twose onto the back row and Durrant replaced Chapman out on the wing.
Knowing the job was far from done but with the ball firmly in the visitors court, College aimed to starve OGs of ball, thus in turn tiring the large home pack of energy.
Keeping the ball close and compact, the College were able to do just that as they starved the home team of possession, even turning defence into attack with some excellent scrummaging against the head.
Strong running from the fresh substitutes Harker and Shepherd allowed scrum half Flanders to keep delivering quick ball to the backs who in turn kept plugging away searching for the holes that could penetrate the Wellingborough defensive line.
As the home forwards began to tire, they were found guilty of a penalty count exceeding double figures, so, with a strong wind behind the College, fly half Johns was able to pinpoint more kicks deep into the OG’s half and try and force their way towards the home side’s line.
However, an off day at the line-out meant that at the most crucial points the College unfortunately let potential points slip.
With the game winding down into the last 15 minutes and College looking to bag the important bonus point, they yet again turned the screw and eventually were able to secure their third try of the day.
This came from the dominant pack pushing the scrum five metres to within 10 metres of the Wellingborough line.
When Fraser picked the ball up at the base of the scrum, he fended through the attempted tackles of the flanker and fly half to cross the line under the posts to allow an easy conversion for Johns to make the scoreboard show at 3-21.
Fraser had the opportunity to double his tally from a tap-and-go penalty however he was brought down by mere inches.
The forwards piled in and tried to get the ball over with the likes of Pickerill, Smith and Shepherd all trying but came up short.
The ball was held up and Wellingborough, unaware that it was announced as the final play, kicked the ball away and the match was finished.
This was a much-improved performance from recent games where in the past it has taken a while for the team to click straight from kick off.
It was excellent to see a full 80 minutes played in the right mindset and, with better conditions more suited to Old Boys, they could have scored a hatful tries.
The College take a break from league action as they host Keyworth in the NLD Cup quarter-final on Saturday where they will be hoping to convert their league form into an exciting cup run.
Old Boys: S Pickerill, J Twose, S Duncan, C Darlington, A Walker, B Morgan, D Smith, C Fraser, A Flanders, H Johns, S Durman, L Greenslade, J Chapman, T Houston, C Brierley Lewis, Subs: C Shepherd, M Harker, A Durrant.
More by this authorJames Bedford