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Stamford College Old Boys defeated Aylestone Athletic in their first match for more than 570 days

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Stamford College Old Boys were victorious in their long-awaited return to action on Saturday.

They defeated Aylestone Athletic 24-5 in what was their first match for more than 570 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The red and green machine had been on a four-match winning streak back in February 2020 and managed to pick up where they left off on Saturday.

Stamford College Old Boys defeated Aylestone on Sunday: Photo: Alexandra Crabbe
Stamford College Old Boys defeated Aylestone on Sunday: Photo: Alexandra Crabbe

Hosting six debutants in the match day squad, there was a perfect mix of old and new faces.

The first five minutes were a cagey affair as both teams tried to settle into a routine but, after a few well-earned phases, Fraser managed to break the defensive line on the halfway mark and stormed towards the 22m line.

Excellent support play from the much speedier Farthing saw him crash over in the corner for the first score of the day. Brierley-Lewis wasn’t able to get the tricky conversion, leaving the score at 5-0.

College now stepped up a gear, trying to finish their opposition early doors, and there was excellent displays of running rugby coming from Rogers, Sherwin and Giullari by breaking the defensive lines and continuously working up the pitch.

Nestled just inside the Aylestone half, some quick thinking from scrum half Alan Flanders saw a large amount of unoccupied space deep into the corner.

Oli Sherwin had clearly seen his intentions and went onto pounce on the ball and tip-toed around the forthcoming full-back to cross for Old Boys’ try of the day. This time Brierley-Lewis was able to kick the extra two points for a 12-0 lead.

Towards the end of the first half, Aylestone were gifted a penalty and successfully kicked for the corner.

They were able to win their line-out, however, the maul was brought down illegally so a quick tap and a smart inside ball allowed Aylestone to cross for a well-executed try.

The conversion was unsuccessful which left the scores at 12-5.

The Stamford College defence then had to hold strong just before half-time to deny Aylestone a quick successive score as big tackles came flying in from Davies, Steele and Harker all combining in the effort to keep the opposition out.

With a full assortment of substitutes to select, once half-time came the changes were rung across the board and a few more debutants stepped up to the plate with a flurry of positional changes too.

It was not long into the second half that new players Rogers linked up with Farthing on an expertly timed line to crash over for his second score of the day. The conversion was just off target to leave the score at 17-5.

Stamford College were briefly put onto the back foot for the next minutes as any Aylestone revival was apparent.

However, more excellent tackling from Duncan, Manning and Barringer, accompanied by some great counter rucking from Pickerill and Woodhouse, slowed the ball down just enough for the defensive effort to reset.

A few silly mistakes gave Aylestone a lifeline back into the game, however, after opting to shoot at the posts both attempts sailed just wide keeping the score at 17-5 going into the closing stages.

A few more substitutions in the backs saw Johns and Rodrigues join the back line to solidify the defence and hopefully orchestrate another score.

And, within five minutes, an excellent break and offload from Brierley-Lewis to the hands of Johns saw the pitch open up for him.

A couple of well-timed passes saw the College go from coast-to-coast and Johns was able to barge his way over the line for the fourth score. He added his own conversion to make the score at the final whistle 24-5.

No doubt there will be plenty to work on during midweek training, however, many positives can be taken away from the match against a resilient opposition.

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