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Town become first side this season to defeat Leicester Forest on their artificial pitch




Stamford produced one of their best performances of the season to defeat promotion rivals Leicester Forest on Saturday.

The 15-13 away success stretched Stamford's unbeaten run to 12 games as they became the first side this season to defeat Forest on their RFU-sponsored artificial pitch in west Leicester.

The Leicester side had been one of just three teams to defeat Town this season when they won 23-17 in the reverse fixture.

But Stamford - who were buoyed by their 38-10 win over Sleaford last midweek in the Lincolnshire Cup - looked determined to gain revenge in the tough test which pitted the third-placed hosts against their second-placed visitors.

It was clear from the start that neither team were prepared to give an inch and both showed attacking intent early on.

Town soon adapted to the unfamiliar surface and used Gaz Ramsden and Jack Jones as ball carriers, but it was the home side who struck first with a good back move to score out wide.

Stamford's response was to take the game straight back to their hosts and, when Forest were penalised, Oli Johnson stepped up to slot home the kick.

Both teams varied the options in attack looking for the breakthrough and, when Town were penalised at a ruck, it was Forest who kicked the three points to take an 8-3 lead.

It was then Stamford's turn to put on the pressure and a penalty was kicked into the corner where a catch and drive by the forwards found Ramsden who touched down for great forwards try.

From the restart Dan Heard ran the ball deep into the home side's 22, but they were stopped and Forest were able to clear their lines.

Both teams were now testing each other to the limit but, when Johnson ran the ball out of defence, Stamford won three quick rucks and eventually Sam Hillary battled his way over for the try which, when Johnson converted, gave them a half-time lead of 8-15.

The second half soon resembled trench warfare with both teams attacking with pace or defending with power.

Recently Stamford have developed a purple, black and white defensive wall and on Saturday it was again immense with huge tackles putting down the Forest runners and the support players moving the ball away with Rob Smith in command at scrum half.

Town have the ability to counter attack and Martin Bagnall used O'Shea and McDonald to run into open spaces ahead of them but they were eventually stopped by the home defence.

Forest were awarded a line out in the Stamford 22 and, although it looked like they had knocked on, they were allowed to continue and scored in the corner to make it 13-15.

The match continued in this way with both sides giving everything until in the final five minutes Forest were awarded a penalty in the Stamford 22 almost in front of the posts.

A simple kick would have won them the game with not enough time for Town to reply, but amazingly they opted for a scrum and driving maul which Stamford defended and eventually Bagnall stole the ball and broke as far as halfway.

Forest regained possession but once again Stamford's defence held firm to the final whistle.

The scenes at the end of the match were of sheer joy and, having given every ounce of energy, the boys still found their voices and the changing room was rocking with celebration knowing that they had taken the win and been the first away team to win on this facility.

Head coach Matt Albinson and club president Neil Jolly were both speechless but quickly praised the team for the huge effort and commitment they had shown.#

Stamford's next game is on Saturday, February 16, against league leaders Northampton Casuals at Empingham Road which has the makings of a cracking match and the club is hoping it will be well supported.

On the cup front, Stamford play Newark in the semi-final of the NLD Shield and Scunthorpe in the last four of the Lincolnshire Cup, both games are at home.



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