Broadstreet Rugby Football Club travelled to Stourton Park to face a resurgent Stourbridge in a return fixture having won comfortably by 33 – 10 in the home leg before Christmas. This was a closer encounter with only ‘Street’s slip-ups proving the difference on the scoreboard, as the hosts narrowly prevailed by 23 points to 17 after the visitors had clawed back from a 20 – 3 deficit twenty seconds onto the second half to grab an-all important bonus point writes Bob Harcourt.
With Stourbridge dominant in the first ten minutes it looked like this was going to be a tough contest for travelling ‘Street, especially when veteran craftsman scrum half Toby Handley (one-time Broadstreet player) dummied his way over from close range to score; converted by Caolan Ryan it gave the blue and whites a 7 – 0 lead with ten minutes gone. Stourbridge kept the pressure on in ‘Street territory and only a Jake Dodd turnover relieved the pressure. Back came the home outfit and set up a chance with a five metre penalty lineout only to throw in crooked. ‘Street powered to half way and lost possession to allow Stour’ to go back on the offensive. Danny Wright was adjudged off-side at a ruck and harshly yellow carded as the first quarter closed. Ryan banged over the penalty to extend his team’s lead to 10 – 0. Broadstreet’s Ben Palmer pulled one back ten minutes later as ‘Street worked their way into the game. 10 - 3 with eleven minutes to the break but a scrum penalty on the visitor’s 22 metre line gave Ryan an easy three points, 13 – 3; and that’s how a dour first half at Stour’ ended.
Half Time: Stourbridge 13 Broadstreet 3.
You could hear the good old fashioned half time rollicking from ‘Street’s Director of Rugby through the clubhouse walls before the sides resumed; but those words, at first, seemed to be to no avail as Stourbridge re-started and scored a converted try within twenty seconds. A ‘Street forward caught the kick-off; passed a lobbed pass to fly-half Palmer, who having plucked the lob out of the air, had his clearing kick attempt charged down and compliments of a deep goal area, the lively flanker Bobbie Lawrenson was gifted five points. Ryan converted and ‘Street were in trouble at 20 – 3. Stunned into action by their wretched misfortune and with the half time ‘talk’ ringing in their ears, the Rugby Road outfit took off with a vengeance. Three minutes later, Palmer added his second penalty of the game after Stour’s backs got themselves off-side under pressure and ‘Street went on to dominate the next ten minutes, adding another Palmer penalty goal, after Stour’s Tuipolotu copped a yellow card for persistent offending. 20 – 9 and the final quarter to go.
From the re-start ‘Street had to with-stand a period of Stour’ offensive play near their line as the home side tried in vain to score from successive penalty lineouts. Good defence cleared the danger and ‘Street reversed the situation as they thundered up-field to a penalty lineout and mauled over the home line, only to be held up. From the resultant scrummage, ‘Street’s forward pushed the Stour’ pack over the line for a well-earned Nick Thatcher try near the left hand corner; too far out on a tacky pitch for Palmer to convert, 20 – 14 but back in with a chance to steal! With seven minutes to go, ‘Street were penalised around half way and Ryan boomed over a long range penalty to threaten ‘Street’s hopes of gaining even a losing bonus point; but some excellent approach play saw them penetrate deep into Stour territory and when an over-eager forward dived over the ruck to kill play, the referee had the easy decision to give Palmer a straight-forward shot at goal; which he took with panache to the delight of players and spectators alike; 23 – 17 with less than three minutes to go. ‘Street fielded the re-start and worked up field looking for a winning score but it wasn’t to be as Stour’ held firm in defence.
Final Score: Stourbridge 23 Broadstreet 17.
Thought for the Game:
Winning is everything but on the road it is important to, at the very least, pick up points. A win this could easily have been, but for an indifferent first half on a tacky surface and a fortuitous Stourbridge try at the start of the second. The poignancy of the verbal challenge at half time indicates that performance is as much in the head as in the body, probably more so, given the second half determination on display. Huddersfield, at home next outing! Eighty minutes gents – at the very least!
Squad: Ben Cooper; Jefferey Gregson, Nathan Tilsley, James Otutaha, Andy Murray; Ben Palmer, Nick Thatcher; Joe Foreman, Stewart Pearl, Jake Dodd; Aaron Crofts, Matthew Solomon; Danny Wright, Jamie Harrop, Jack Gibbons (Capt); Henry Sandys, Gareth Turner, Dan Martin, Chris Wood, Beau Carney.