Stamford 6 Dronfield 5
STAMFORD Town RFC completed the final part of a unique treble by winning the Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire Shield at Matlock on Sunday.
With the Lincolnshire Cup and the Midland 4 East (South) title already in the bag, Stamford always expected this to be their toughest challenge yet - against Dronfield, who had won 16 of their 20 league matches to finish third in the division above Stamford.
With several regular players missing through injury and work commitments it was always going to need the whole squad to step up to the mark; and step up they duly did, showing their potential for the higher level next season with a 6-5 victory.
Captain Oli Story said: “We never turned our supremacy into points, which kept it exciting but it’s a final and as long as we ended up with more than they did, that’s all that mattered.
“I am very proud of the guys.”
The game started at a frantic pace with Dronfield determined to bash their way through the fringes of the Stamford defence.
It was physical but predictable game plan and far too predictable for Stamford who could rely on great tenacity and technique around the fringes.
Jack Efion-Jones and Cameron Park quickly snaffled any loose ball and when Ross Cutteridge, the smallest man on the field dumped the biggest man on the field, the Dronfield number 8, the writing was on the wall.
Stamford kept their shape and Andrew Morris and Calvin Dendy Young proved too tight to let anything through.
Stamford started to go forward in contact, the front row of Story, James Green and Williams were smaller but technically far superior and made great inroads picking and going.
Stamford went close on three occasions. Two drop goal attempts and a penalty sailed wide and a great move was finished off only for the final pass to be judged forward.
Having been denied possession and territory all half it was a real blow for Stamford when a breakaway try on 40 minutes saw Dronfield go up 5-0 at the break.
Stamford took charge of the game from the start of the second half and it wasn’t long before Dronfield were in trouble with the referee for killing the ball.
A great break from Robbie Smith, who was proving to be a real handful, sent Eifon-Jones up the middle and after another penalty, Laurent Ross popped over the three.
Minutes later a great steal from Matt Albinson sent Tom Plant smashing through the defence on the 22. Dronfield transgressed and Ross took another three after a yellow card to give Stamford a 6-5 lead.
Stamford kept the pressurse up and Smith and Ross combined again on the blinside. Albinson sent James Allan and Dendy-Young through but to the frustration of supporters, the pass was judged forward.
Dronfield threw everything at Stamford in the final minutes but were repelled at every turn. Stamford’s defence was as solid, as it has been all season, and a last ditch move was snuffled out.
Stamford coach David Laventure paid tribute to the side, saying: “It’s great for the club.
“I am not sure many people would have given the guys a chance of winning all three trophies, but also to do it against a side finishing third in the next league up just shows what they could be capable of next season.”