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Stamford College defeat Aylestone St James in Midlands 4 East (South) clash

Stamford College delivered their ninth win from the last 10 games in some style at the weekend as they convincingly beat Aylestone St James 47-15.

Old Boys lost by an agonising two points in the same fixture last season, so revenge was certainly on their mind.

Fielding a tastily strong team, the College received the kick off and immediately set to work on gaining a greater field position with carries coming from forwards and backs alike.

Max Harker scores for Stamford College on Saturday.Photo: Ray Bates
Max Harker scores for Stamford College on Saturday.Photo: Ray Bates

However, as the likes of Pickerill, Walker and Darlington battered their way through tackles and gained excellent positioning right in the middle of the pitch, Aylestone were found of guilty of handling illegally at the bottom of the ruck.

A little bit out of range for the College kicking department, Haydn Johns instead nudged it up to the 22m line.

A strong point of Old Boys’ season so far has been a near perfectly functioning line-out and Saturday was no exception.

The gangly frame of Darlington had at least half a yard on his opposite number as he collected the ball and brought it down for a driving maul towards the line.

The ball was recycled and, just as the visitors tried to pull it down, the College were able to peel and release Harker to break from 10 metres out.

He was able to power over the line to claim his first try in the red and green jersey. Johns successfully kicked the extras on offer to make the score 7-0.

It made a refreshing change to see the College switched on from the very beginning as, in the past, they have been found guilty of not starting games the as the stronger team and there was to be no let up.

An excellent kick-off return found College on the front foot immediately and a few phases later and the visitors were scrambled in defence.

The backs were able to use a simple but destructive miss pass out to full-back Carl Brierley-Lewis who was able to skip past the oncoming full-back and get the score down in the corner. A tricky kick but a solid two points were added from the boot of Johns to make the score 14-0.

It was a dream start for the home side, however, Aylestone were not there to purely make up the numbers.

They showed within the next five minutes of play that they had the ability to starve teams of possession and inflict that killer blow.

After much possession and great field position, they were able to use the larger pack to pick and go phase after phase and eventually were able to dot the ball down for their first score of the day. The conversion was however missed.

The visitors were not done there though and got a brief taste for the try-line as they found themselves going over again after they worked the College pack from one side of the pitch to another.

With this they were able to create a simple five-on-three overlap and a simple set of passes allowed them to cross in the opposite corner from their first score. The conversion was again missed.

College knew they would be in for a long day at the office if the simple mistakes were not amended as, after a very positive 15 minutes to begin with, a five minute grey patch left the score at 14-10.

Stamford College Old Boys defeated Aylestone on Saturday. Photo: Ray Bates (24034417)
Stamford College Old Boys defeated Aylestone on Saturday. Photo: Ray Bates (24034417)

From kick-off the home side immediately put Jimmies under a severe amount of pressure with excellent defensive efforts from Whitfield, Fraser and Harker.

Although it was still in possession of the away side they were struggling to find a way out of their 22m area.

After running out of ideas the lines were cleared in the form of a kick, however, a slice meant it went out just inside the 22m line.

A well-oiled line-out move straight from the training ground meant that James Twose was able to wrap around the back of the line and pin his ears back breaking four or five tackles on his way to picking up his second try in as many games.

Johns was able to keep his 100 per cent place kicking stat intact as it sailed through the posts to make the score 21-10

As College collected the kick-off they set about working back up towards the away side’s posts.

Knowing they were dominant at the line-out, after stealing many opposing ball beforehand, Johns kicked for territory gain with hopes of forcing a turnover at the lineout.

And this is exactly what he was given, the tall frame of Walker this time being able to turn the ball over.

Dropping it down to Flanders he was able to deliver great ball to Johns who arched his run, sold a dummy and was able to locate the dog-leg defence within the channel occupied by the outside centre and winger he went over for his first try of the day.

He calmly added his own points to make the score a more convincing 28-10 going into the half-time interval.

With a full bench to pick from, a few changes were made with Durrant coming into the fold for Houston, who had a solid first half on the wing, and Satherley who came on for the ever excellent Whitfield on the flank.

From an attacking perspective the game plan was excellent however a little tightening in the defensive efforts would mean that the Aylestone squad would really struggle to cross the line in the second half.

The close to perfect attacking rugby continued almost straight away as the second half commenced.

Jimmies were pegged deep in their own half and, when the clearance kick failed to make it into touch, it was Brierley-Lewis who ran back towards the oncoming defenders with real grit and determination.

He was able to arc his run to beat the first wave of defenders before a simple pass meant that he was able to put winger Jim Chapman away in the corner for his first score of the season.

The conversion, although difficult, proved no match for the boot of Johns who kicked his fifth of the game for a 35-10 advantage.

The game then slowed in pace with both teams trying to establish a decent patch of possession and set play was 50/50.

Jimmies had the definite edge at the scrum however the line-out completely belonged to the College.

However, it was in loose play that Aylestone were able to claim their third try of the day.

An excellent backs move shifted the play right out into the centres before an inside pop meant the full-back was able to come haring though the hole that appeared and he was able to cross the line. The conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 35-15.

Halfway through the second half coaches Carl Walker and Jon Duncan decided to empty the College bench and brought on Tom Heath to replace Harker in an attempt to bolster the pack at scrum time.

Flanders made way for Gamble at scrum half and the third change came in the form of Tom Birks coming to the field of play to replace try scorer Chapman.

With fresh legs the pack was rejuvenated and Gamble brought a completely different threat to the game at scrum half which, with crashing runs from Satherley and Twose, allowed the forwards to set about making a steady platform.

With around 15 phases in the Jimmies 22m, they managed to suck in almost every player towards the breakdown so when the ball was spun out to Johns he was able to throw a huge dummy pass to throw the drifting defenders off balance and he was able to dart his way over to score his second of the day. The conversion was duly added and the score was 42-15.

With a minute left on the clock the College were not finished there.

Straight from kick off, Alex Walker was able to pop the ball down the blind-side to Fraser who bounced off one tackle before being dragged down over the gain-line.

The ball was recycled quickly to Twose who, once again, pinned his ears back and broke the line. He made it 50 metres up the pitch before being dragged down, however, being on the front foot quick ball again allowed Gamble to deliver it to a rampaging Satherley who crossed for his first try in College colours.

Captain Johns was disappointed to not of kept his 100 per cent kicking percentage as he watched his kick sail wide as the whistle was blown and the match won at 47-15.

College now till sit third in the Midlands 4 East (South) and are certainly in the best form for some recent years. This week they are in action away against fourth-placed Bedford Swifts.

College: S Pickerill, M Harker, S Duncan, A Walker, C Darlington, A Whitfield, J Twose, C Fraser, A Flanders, H Johns, S Durman, O Sherwin, T Houston, J Chapman, C Brierley-Lewis. Subs: T Heath, D Satherley, S Gamble, A Durrant, T Birks.

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