Next two matches will have a big say in outcome of Town's season
A strong first half performance helped fire Stamford to a ninth successive bonus point victory as they defeated visiting Dunstablians 25-12 at Hambleton Road on Saturday.
All of Stamford’s points came in the opening period after a testing Midlands 3 East (South) tussle which saw Town gain revenge for a 19-10 defeat at Dunstable in October.
Minimal team changes saw the return of John Murphy to the second row and one switch in the backs to cover the injury to Aus Schwartz.
Stamford also had one eye on the referee as the last time he officiated their game it resulted in a match lasting 104 minutes.
Playing with the slope and wind advantage, Town took early control by using the forwards close support play to take them deep into the opposition half before releasing the backs.
Good recycling then allowed Harry Bentley to go on an arching run around the outside of the defenders to score in the corner.
This was a reflection of the growing confidence Bentley has been displaying in recent games.
Stamford continued to dominate and, when Dunstable tried to clear the ball from a scrum, Robbie Smith charged down the kick, gathered up the loose ball and ran in to score unopposed.
From the restart it was again Stamford who took the ball forward with good support play and, when they were awarded a penalty, some quick thinking put Gaz Ramsden over for the third try. Unfortunately Rees Burns did not have his best day off the tee and the score remained at 15-0.
The visitors tried to attack when in possession, but the Stamford tackling again stopped them before they could make any ground.
When Stamford stole the ball back the fury of Sam Hillary was released on a devastating run which, when he was eventually stopped, Jack Jones was able to carry on before offloading to Dan Heard to score the fourth and bonus point try.
Dunstable changed tactics and tried to kick out of defence next but the ball did not find touch and was ran straight back at them with Ross Haley scoring the final try of the half to make the interval score 25-0.
The second half saw the visitors use the elements to their advantage and put pressure on Town’s defence.
It was now a more even contest and the Purple Black and White defensive wall was strongly tested.
Stand-off Bentley had to leave the field with a leg injury which meant a rearrangement of the back line and Dunstable took quick advantage with a tap penalty move resulting in their first try of the game.
Stamford soon hit back with some good attacking moves but they were unable to make the breakthrough.
From one such play the visitors intercepted a pass and ran in for a converted try.
The pattern of the game was now one of attack and counter attack but neither side was able to add to the score with Hillary again leading the chase with another one of his manic runs.
Town never looked like losing their control of the game and the final score remained at 25-12
The victory maintained Stamford’s grip on second spot, but they will need to be at their very best for the trip to third-placed Leicester Forest this weekend as they are chasing them and will hope to do well on their own patch.
Stamford travel to Sleaford on Wednesday night for a Lincolnshire Cup semi-final for the first of two matches which will have big say in the outcome of the season.