Stamford College Old Boys defeat Deepings to claim third win of the Midlands 4 East (South) season
Stamford College claimed the derby day spoils with a bonus point victory at Deepings on Saturday to maintain their excellent start to the season.
The 17-29 victory was their third successive Midlands 4 East (South) success and was their first win over Deepings in three attempts.
The home team grabbed the early initiative as an accidental offside from the College's very first touch gave Deepings a very lucrative scrum just outside of the 22.
The scrum was adjudged to have been illegally brought down by Walker, giving the Deepings a penalty and a real chance to take the lead.
The home fly-half opted to take the shot at goal but the kick sailed wide, meaning a lucky escape for Stamford.
College knew they could play better than this, but could not be kick-started as Deepings found their way over the line with a sizeable overlap to draw first blood down in the corner. The conversion was not successful so the hosts had a 5-0 advantage.
A stern but reassuring talking-to under the posts from coaches Jon Duncan and Carl Walker fuelled the College fire and, after a sloppy first 10 minutes, it seemed that they had finally woken up.
Using strong runners in the form of Harker, Smith and Reilly, with great support play from the rest of the forwards, they were able to set a quick platform for Alan Flanders to get the ball out to the backs in order for them to make the assault towards the Deepings try line, however, the home defence remained sturdy.
This was until they were penalised for offside at the breakdown around the halfway line. Captain Johns opted to kick for the corner and get the ball down into the area that the College wanted to be playing in.
After winning the resulting line-out, the College pack used their trusted driving maul which had proven already to be such a dangerous weapon so far this season.
The ball was marched 20 metres forward and recycled out to the backs. However, after noticing Deepings flooding around the corner of the ruck to match the numbers, a quick reversal saw Johns take the ball back down the blindside to dot over for the first College score. The conversion also sailed over to give College a 5-7 lead.
With the momentum seemingly swaying towards the away team, it all the more shocking to see Deepings cross the line in almost identical circumstances to their first try.
After drawing in players around the breakdown, they found an overlap and with a simple set of hands were able to get their second try of the afternoon. They were, however, struggling from the tee as a third place kick went wide of the posts.
With the first half slowly coming to an end and the pack working on tiring the Deepings players down, it had taken its toll on the College too.
With both sets of teams really blowing, a penalty just outside of the 22 was bound to occur as the home team were accused of entering the ruck through the side.
With the clock in the red, Johns stepped up to take the penalty kick and go in at half-time 10-10 as it breezed through the posts.
The College were guilty of not finishing easy chances in the first half and could have been in a commanding 10-point lead, however, silly mistakes crept in.
In an attempt to eradicate these mistakes, fresh legs were brought on in the form of Twose, Morgan, Brierley-Lewis and Steele.
This was to really firm up the tiring pack and give an extra yard of pace out on the wing through Brierley-Lewis.
As the second half kicked off, it really made a difference as the pack were able to bulldoze their way over the gain line time after time through monstrous running from Fraser, Twose and the rest of the pack.
They all gave 110 per cent and, after a punishing time for the Deepings defence, the ball was spun out to Johns who picked a curvaceous line through both centres and was able to score his second try of the game. He was also able to knock his own conversion over for a 10-17 lead.
College were really finding their rhythm now and a quick pop from the back of the ruck found Fraser breaking the defensive line with only a winger in his sights.
However, he was completely blind-sided from a retreating player and the offload, although not the easiest to recover, had Harley Riches on hand to take the glory from five metres out.
Johns, however, was not able to capitalise on his 100 per cent kicking record for the day as he watched his effort float a yard wide of the post.
Although the momentum was firmly in College’s court with a 10-22 advantage, Deepings were keeping them on their toes.
Threatening to do some damage, they just simply couldn’t push through with superb defensive work or simple errors.
When Fraser broke from the back of the scrum, he crashed through both fly-half and scrum half as he slammed the ball over the line.
The Deepings players heads had dropped, albeit only for a second as the referee had adjudged that there had been a knock-on during the placement of the ball and disallowed the score.
With the game heading into the final 15 minutes, Old Boys emptied the bench at this point and brought on the resilient Paul Wright who was a true wrecking ball at the breakdown and was just what the College needed.
Deepings knew they needed to score and kept the ball superbly and worked through what seemed 20 phases before barging over right in the corner.
The kick was readied and taken quickly as the clock ticked down and went as straight as an arrow through the posts to make the score 17-22.
The game was hanging by a thread as a score to either side would finish the game.
Deepings pressured hard with phase after punishing phase as they edged forward into a better position to allow the backs to go for the try.
They had the players set and had the quick ball ready for the distribution but, as it flew effortlessly down the line, the final pass was given way behind the recipients hands and it was loose. First to the ball was Johns and, 60 metres out, the race was on.
With all his might, he emptied the tanks as he sped past the last retreating defender to complete his hat-trick and secure victory for the Old Boys.
As his conversion attempt went through, the referee blew the whistle for the final time with College 17-29 winners.
College: S Pickerill, M Harker, C Walker, J Reilly, A Walker, A Whitfield, D Smith, C Fraser, A Flanders, H Johns, H Riches, T Rodrigues, T Houston, J Chapman, J Strydom.
Man-of-the-match: C Fraser.