Biggleswade RFC 24
STAMFORD’S dreams of back-to-back promotions were blown away by rivals Biggleswade at Empingham Road on Saturday.
A 24-10 victory sealed second spot for the visitors, who could still claim top spot for themselves in the final two games.
Biggleswade came with an efficient, no-frills game plan to inflict Town’s first defeat since the turn of the year and the home side were helped by their own indiscipline, which led to three penalties in the first half and a penalty, try and a converted try in the second half. The two tries stemmed from what the referee adjudged to be late tackles.
Biggleswade started well, picking up nine soft points from Stamford before the Town lads really got going.
Once Stamford had woken up, quick ball, well-constructed plays and a fine line break by Harry Offer led to James Ragg taking on Biggleswade’s small winger - no contest - which reduced Stamford’s deficit to 7-9 at half time.
However try scorer Ragg was one of two Stamford players forced to leave the field through injury before half time with Ragg and Ross Cutteridge replaced by Bruce Parker and Dave Bushrod.
Stamford’s commitment was excellent but their attack was thwarted by the opposition’s tactics, with just three points gained in the second half from one of many penalties that the opposition gave away.
Stamford skipper Oli Story said: “Congratulations to Biggleswade who will now be promoted along with Northampton BBOB. Stamford wish both teams every success next season.
“We still have plenty to play for this season including a NLD cup final at the end of May.”
He added: We were missing front rows on Saturday. I was playing prop which is not a position I usually play, and the injuries to Ragg and Cutteridge made it difficult to organise our set pieces.
“We also didn’t adapt to the referee’s interpretation of the rules at the breakdown as well as we could have done.”
Stamford now have a weekend off before returning to action at Daventry on April 14; a game which will be followed their final league game of the season, a home clash against local rivals Deepings.
The NLD Cup Final, at Kesteven on May 20, will be against Nottingham Moderns or Ashbourne. Both sides represent higher league opposition but Story said Stamford, who beat higher league opposition in last year’s final, have nothing to fear.
“We want the challenge of playing teams like these,” said Story.
Stamford: Oli Story, Cameron Park, James Green, James Ragg, Frank Wiese, Ross Cutteridge, Jack Eifon-Jones, Adam Rimmer, Robbie Smith, Will McMilan, Richard Thompson, Harry Offer, Guy Michels, Laurent Ross, Bruce Parker, Dave Bushrod, Mark Taylor.
Midlands 3 East (South)
P W D L F A BPts Pts
North’ton BBOB 20 17 0 3 775 161 16 85
Biggleswade 20 18 0 2 545 172 10 82
Stamford 20 14 0 6 579 305 14 70
Rugby St Andrews 20 12 1 7 526 37 15 65
* Daventry 19 14 0 5 435 276 8 59
Stewarts & Lloyds 20 10 0 10 403 366 12 52
Queens 20 7 1 12 307 429 7 37
North’ton Casuals 19 7 0 12 263 456 6 34
Deepings 20 7 0 13 244 505 2 30
Rushden & Higham 20 6 0 14 285 442 5 29
Bedford Swifts 20 3 0 17 194 629 3 15
Brackley 20 3 0 17 133 577 2 14
n Turn to page 124 for pictures and reports from Stamford’s mini-rugby festival.