Stamford College Old Boys are beaten by Deepings in Midlands 4 East (South) clash
Stamford College Old Boys fell to a third consecutive league defeat after losing to local rivals Deepings on Saturday.
The 23-12 reversal was a tough pill to swallow for Old Boys who felt they were on the wrong end of some contentious decisions in the Midlands 4 East (South) clash.
College had the first period of sustained possession and set up a good platform. Taking the early game initiative had been very typical of the men in red and green this season and this match wasn't any different.
The forwards gave good platform to the backs who, in turn, tried to make possession into points.
However, after an unfortunate drop of the ball in midfield, it was Deepings who scored the first points of the day.
The ball was dropped by College, recovered by the hosts and recycled out to the wing where simple handling saw them over. A relatively simple conversion on a slight angle was missed to make the score 5-0.
College knew that this was a simple mistake and didn't let their heads drop.
From kick-off they managed to force the knock-on error and instantly had a good scrummaging position to bounce right back.
Many phases later the College had found themselves within 10 metres of Deepings' try line and carried on with the phases with the likes of Flanders and Rodrigues helping the forwards in maintaining clean ball.
Having worked a huge overlap, Flanders took the game by the scruff as he dummied out wide to create a gap left by the Deepings defence as he went over uncontested for Stamford’s first points.
An easy kick under the posts sailed through for Carl Brierley-Lewis and Old Boys had a 5-7 lead.
Keen to bounce back, Deepings nestled into the Stamford College half and remained there for a good spell of time.
However, resolute defending from the likes of Sherwin, Manning, Harker and co kept the hosts from crossing.
The pressure and being spurred on by a large home crowd saw Deepings work the ball down the blindside where they were brought into touch millimetres from the line.
Unfortunately for the Stamford squad, who had clearly seen a foot in touch, the try was given nevertheless, much to the dismay of the away supporters. The conversion on the touchline was missed to make the score 10-7.
A clever restart again saw Stamford College force a knock on to give a good base to attack from.
Much like their first score they worked phase upon phase to set a good platform, working inch upon inch to get up the pitch and they found themselves camped on the Deepings five metre line.
Although the hosts' defence tried, they were in vain when Fraser picked a gap on the blindside to find the line for the second College score.
A tricky conversion saw Brierley-Lewis' kick percentage drop to 50 per cent as the attempt just sailed wide to leave the score at 10-12.
The last play of the half saw Deepings opt to take a penalty shot at the posts which was a compliment to the College pack who had the edge at setpieces in the first half.
Unlike the first two kicks, Deepings were able to register a successful kick to make the score going into half-time 13-12.
A lone substitution of Durman for Austin on the wing saw Stamford College kicking off with a spring in their step and mirroring the pattern of the first half.
They took the game to the hosts with big crashing runs from Farthing and Bell, backed up with some bruising clear outs from the likes of Walker and Pickerill.
This continued until the ball found its way to a rampaging Chris Steele who fended off the first few tackles before bouncing through a few more to go over for the score.
However, another refereeing decision that would turn the tide of the game, saw the official call for what College felt was a dubious looking knock-on somewhere over the line and what should have been try of the day was now not even to be a score.
Deepings were able to clear their lines after the questionable call and at this point Aramis Davies and Jack Woodhouse came into the pack to replace Lewis Manning who had picked up a head injury and Ali Whitfield.
Alex Walker then left the pitch as a result of an alleged stamping incident which was also not picked up on and play was allowed to resume with Whitfield returning in his place.
With players and fans' tempers close to boiling point, the College tried to settle into their own game-play pattern once more.
They kept the ball and won their set play while on occasion disrupting the home side's pack into conceding turnovers.
But, even with the lions share of territory and possession, the visitors just couldn’t seem to put the points on to the scoreboard.
Deepings, when in possession, were able to convert their chances into points as they went over for their third try of the day, although College again felt yet another piece of foul play was missed as vice-captain Oli Sherwin took a kick to the face at a ruck in the build-up.
However, the try stood and, similar to the previous two conversions, the attempt also went begging to leave Deepings 18-12 ahead.
Austin made his way back into the fray for Sherwin as College knew they had to bounce back and, with just minutes closing in on full-time, they had to strike quickly.
Rallying among themselves, they found a way into the hosts 22-metre line thanks to a penalty for a ruck infringement.
Having been fairly dominant at the line-out all game, College elected to try the catch and drive however things didn't go to plan.
Deepings managed to find themselves in possession and sent a crossfield kick over to a winger at full speed.
With excellent tracking by retreating players, Joe Austin, Farthing and Durman were able to force the turnover and clear their lines.
However, the clearance kick didn't gather much length as it fell into the arms of a Deepings player who was able to burst through a covering tackle and go in under the posts. The conversion was again missed as the full time whistle sounded with Deeping 23-12 ahead.
Old Boys captain Callum Fraser said: "We played well but unfortunately a few big decisions went against us else the final score could have been very different.
"However, with new arrivals and a few departures this season, the positives are certainly outweighing the negatives and it's only a matter of time before we seriously make our mark in the division."
Old Boys face a tough test this weekend as they travel away to Boston in the NLD Cup where they will be hoping to progress through to the next round.