STAMFORD 12 HARBOURNE 9
STAMFORD Town’s 1st XV’s unbeaten run in all competitions finally came to an end on Saturday as they were knocked out of the RFU Intermediate Vase in a thriller at Birmingham University.
Travelling to Midlands League West leaders Harbourne with seven first team players unavailable, it was always going to be a tough challenge. The close scoreline was testament to the strength in depth the club has developed over the last season.
Stamford started brightly with good driving play from Jake Wilkins, Bruce Parker and Oli Story allowing them to set up a great platform. Harbourne were penalised at the breakdown and Matt Albinson converted the penalty.
It was then a defensive lapse that allowed Harbourne to get into the Stamford half and once they got behind the Town line, Harbourne’s winger was able to finish in the corner.
Stamford bounced back and Tom Lindley and Will Macmillan caused problems in the midfield. Adam Rimmer and Steve Jordan led the pack into the 22 and Albinson rewarded the pack with a well taken drop goal for a 6-5 half-time lead.
The conditions turned the game into “chess on mud” and it was Harbourne who enjoyed territory and possession through a lower error count and a missed Stamford tackle allowed the hosts to score their second try.
Stamford fought back, led by an inspirational Jack Eifion-Jones and the pressure started to mount but they could not cross the white wash. Two overlaps went begging through poor execution.
An Albinson penalty cut the lead to three points with less than 10 minutes remaining and with two minutes to spare Town were awarded a penalty. The attempt to tie shaved the upright and a final drop goal attempt also fell short before the final whistle.
Skipper Oli Story said: “I am very disappointed. I don’t think we gave a true account of ourselves. The best is yet to come I am sure of it.”
Coach David Laventure agreed: “It was proper cup rugby and the team who made the least number of mistakes was always going to win.
“We have to forget it now as there are still three trophies up for grabs and we want all of them.”
l Stamford return to league action tomorrow away to Oundle. Stamford College Old Boys visit division leaders Biggleswade.