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Stamford defeat Rushden & Higham in Midlands 3 East (South) match




Stamford got their promotion challenge back on track after a convincing 53-5 home victory over Rushden & Higham on Saturday.

The nine-try bonus point win keeps Stamford within five points of Midlands 3 East (South) leaders Oakham with a game in hand following the previous weekend's postponement at Bedford Queens.

With a good drying wind over the previous two days, the pitch was in good condition on Saturday to suit Stamford’s running style and from the start they showed their intent.

Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021129)
Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021129)

The kick-off was taken by Oli Winspear who made good ground before handing on to Toby Anderson and, when he was stopped, he popped the ball to Martin Bagnall to score the first try.

The visitors' second kick off was sent to Gaz Ramsden who repeated the previous move, handing on to Jack Jones who released Rees Burns to score wide out. Burns also landed the conversion to give Town a 12-0 lead after only five minutes.

Rushden rallied themselves and tried to use the forwards to break through, but Stamford’s defence held strong until a quick change of direction saw the visitors score in the corner to make it 12-5.

This lifted the visitors and they came straight back but good tackling allowed full back James Stables to kick clear.

From the resulting line out Winspear was able to break clear and go over for a try.

It was now that Stamford started to dominate the game, although Rushden were winning good scrum ball but were unable to turn any of their attacks into points and, when possession was lost, Burns was stopped short of the line.

Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021133)
Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021133)

The visitors were awarded a scrum but Stamford drove hard and the ball was taken on by Ian Downer who scored the fourth and bonus point try with Burns adding the conversion to make it 24-5.

Stamford were now in complete control and the forwards were winning the contest in all phases.

This freed the backs to run at Rushden and from one move it was Bagnall again who sped through for a try which Burns converted to give a half-time score of 31-5.

The second half saw Town with the wind and slope in their favour and Downersent the kick off deep into the Rushden half where Bruce Parker stole the line out and crashed through the defence to score.

Rushden tried to rally again but Stamford slammed the door in their face with some massive tackles and fly-half Downer used tactical kicking to send them backwards again.

From an attacking scrum skipper Robbie Smith used good footwork to create space for Burns to run in again to make the score 41-5.

Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021131)
Stamford were emphatic winners against Rushden & Higham on Saturday. Photo: Darren Dolby (30021131)

The game continued with Rushden being pinned down in their own half and Stamford hitting them with quick breaks , one of which almost resulted in a try for prop James Green but the pass to him went out of reach.

It was from another blind side break that the move worked and Burns ran in his third try of the day.

The Stamford pack were now running the game, Tom Wire was joined in the second row by John Murphy and, with the ball carrying of Dan Heard and Sam Hillary, they were able to feed the backs to run at Rushden.

Dave Martin was unlucky not to score but the move was finished off by Parker with Downer kicking the conversion to make the final score 53-5.

It was a very good all-round performance by the whole team, including the use of tactical subs Ben Murphy and Harry Ayton who contributed to this emphatic win.

Stamford have a game in hand from last week to play and then the final run in to the season which, with phase and performances like this plus players returning from injury, will put them back into a strong position in the chase for a promotion place.

They visit bottom-of-the-table St Neots on Saturday.

The Midlands 3 East (South) table. (30021146)
The Midlands 3 East (South) table. (30021146)

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