Stamford Rugby Club defeat Bugbrooke in Midlands 2 East (South) clash
Stamford ran out winners in their first meeting with Bugbrooke on Saturday to secure their third victory from the last four Midlands 2 East (South) games.
The Northampton side offered stiff opposition from the start as the rain had increased prior to kick-off and made the pitch a bit heavier than the players would have liked.
But it seemed to suit the home team who caught the kick-off, passed through three players and then scored in the corner to go 5-0 up in the first minute.
Stamford then realised the game had started and hit back with a move of their own but poor handling prevented any score until they were awarded a penalty which Ian Downer put over to pull three points back.
This seemed to spur them on as they upped their game and put the home team under pressure.
When Bugbrooke tried to kick clear, it was Downer again who charged down the kick and followed up to score the first try.
Town continued to pressurise the opposition and good tackling meant the home team were being pinned back in their own 22.
From a line-out, Stamford put the ball out to the backs and Harry Bentley made the break and then fed the ball back to Gareth Ramsden to crash over for a try which Downer converted to make the score 5-15.
From a Bugbrooke attack, Stamford unfortunately then lost scrum half George Howard to an injury and Toby Anderson moved into the number nine role while the resulting line-out was won by Jack Jones who managed to drive out of defence.
The home team came back in attack and forced their way over for a converted try before the interval to make the half-time score 12-15.
The weather conditions had improved by the second half with Town playing up the slight slope but this was not proving to be a problem.
Downer was becoming more influential on the game, using both long clearing kicks or clever tactical kicks to open up the home defence.
And it was from a line-out that he took a pass at pace to slice through the defenders to score his second try which again he converted.
It was now Bugbrooke's turn to up the pressure and Stamford could not gain good enough possession to break out and eventually they drove forward before quickly passing out to their winger who scored in the corner to make the score 17-22.
This seemed to lift the Northampton side who hit straight back with a long rolling maul to take them to the line and, when this went down, the referee penalised Stamford for a deliberate collapse and awarded a penalty try which put the hosts into a 24-22 lead.
Stamford then began to retake control with long kicks giving them good field positions but it was from one such kick that Aus Schwartz followed up, kicked on and dived onto the ball to be awarded a try he seemed to be surprised to get.
The dutiful Downer then stepped up to convert to make it 24 -29 and secure the four-try bonus point.
Town were now playing with confidence in both attack and defence, forcing Bugbrooke to play from deep.
When the ball came back to them, Downer produced a controlled chip-and-chase to score under the posts and convert it to take the score to 24-36.
The home team came back hard and it took strong Stamford defence to keep them out over the final five minutes but Town were the eventual winners which the travelling spectators rated as the best performance of the season.
The action returns to Stamford on Saturday as fourth plays third at Empingham Road with Leicester Forest as the visitors. Kick-off for the last game before Christmas is 2.15pm.