Broadstreet's tearaway back line replacements Nick Thatcher and Nathan Tilsley propelled their side to a comfortable victory over one-time title chasers Stourbridge, with two inspirational tries to top off an admirable eighty minutes team performance at the windy Ivor Preece Field Rugby Ground writes Bob Harcourt.
'Street kicked off and quickly pressured Stour' into offending allowing fly half Ben Cooper to give the home side a first minute lead, 3 – 0. From the restart, more pressure from determined and disciplined approach work saw full back Andy Murray blast into space left of posts to touch down unhanded. Cooper added the points to extend 'Street's lead to 10 – 0 after just five minutes and three minutes later Cooper added landed another penalty as 'Street's pack, with engine room of Callum Tucker (great tackle count) and Matthew Solomon working their socks off throughout in support of gifted youngsters Joe Foreman and Jake Dodd, splintered the visitor's eight 25 metres out giving the hosts an eighth minute lead of 13 – 0 which they doggedly refused to relinquish. 'Street lost inside centre Luke Myring (replace by Nathan Tilsley) to early injury and hooker Stewart Pearl (replaced by Mike Worthington) to a blood injury in the opening quarter, somewhat allowing the opportunity for a clearly tottering Stourbridge to gain some composure and to put together some good phases; however, individual errors let them down at promising moments until they were given a shot at the posts twenty seven minutes into the first half, but then kicker and full back Joe Murphy spooned his lamentable attempt. The visitors created a two versus two opportunity late in the half but great defence by 'on song' Andy Murray and 'work horse' wing Ashley Elvers foiled the move some 25 metes out. A scrummage a short while later saw 'Street's forwards repeat their scrummage offensive as Stour' failed to hold the drive. From a penalty line out inside the visitor's half some slick interpassing put Murray clear only for his usually trusty dancing feet to slip from under him as the line beckoned. 'Street support did get over the line, however, but were held up. From the five metre scrum the hosts set siege and were awarded a penalty as Stourbridge strayed off-side. With time up on the clock, Cooper landed the penalty kick to take 'Street to a less than comfortable half time lead of 16 – 0 with a strengthening wind to face after the break.
Half Time: Broadstreet 16 Stourbridge 0.
Jamie Harrop turnover at the breakdown relieved the pressure for 'Street, as Cooper cleared to half way. Play progressed into the Stour 22 metre area and a Cooper drop goal attempt sailed right of the uprights. From the drop out 'Street were penalised twice in quick succession the kicks taking the visitors to a penalty lineout within ten metres of the home line. The ensuing Stourbridge driving maul appeared to go down in the act of scoring, however, it was short of the goal line and adjudged to have been pulled down; a penalty try award followed; 16 – 7 after ten minutes. Worse still, from the restart, 'Street offended in front of their posts and Joe Murphy made no mistake this time in landing the simple kick to pull his side back to 16 – 10 after only eleven minutes of resumed play. 'Street ran a change at half back which saw regular Nick Thatcher replace lively recent recruit Pierre Ferre at scrum half and went on the offensive with a penalty line out in the left corner from another powerful scrummage. The pressure built left of field where the defence gave away two penalties in preventing scoring progress and when captain Jamie Harrop reached over, as the Laws of the Game allow him to do when tackled ("tripped"?) short, the assistant referee adjudged a double movement and Stourbridge; according to players and closely observing spectators, after so much pressure exerted and the defence overtly offending close in, undeservedly cleared their line with a kick to just outside their 22. Stourbridge restarted with renewed vigour and made the early play, however, a great
Rob Dugard and Mike Worthington (for Joe Foreman and Pearl) but, clearly ruffled by the disallowed try, 'Street lost the ball at the lineout and from the resulting scrum Stour' centre Stephan Cooksammy broke downfield with good support and a score looked certain; however, the scrambling 'Street defence hauled him down before he could off-load and lightening quick Thatcher stole the ball and saved the day in progressing back towards the opponents territory. After powerful runs by the forwards; tricky centre James Otutaha and the elusive Jeff Gregson on the right wing, an infringement by the visitors 22 metres out allowed Cooper to land his third penalty kick and give Broadstreet a tenuous nine points cushion of 19 – 10 with fifteen minutes to play. Stourbridge tried again to close the gap with a thrust downfield but some great defence, with back row of Beau Carney (replaced late on by the equally industrious youngster, Dan Martin), Harrop and influential Man-of the-Match, number eight Jack Gibbons, to the fore, saw 'Street hold firm. A clearance to half way allowed the 'Street boys to run the phases and for the darting Thatcher to strike from thirty metres out. Shaking off the defence line he went clear towards the posts and when covered, off-loaded for the well positioned centre Nathan Tilsley to go in untouched at the posts. Cooper made the conversion and 'Street took a comfortable 26 – 10 lead with six minutes remaining. Stourbridge recovered possession from their restart and ran left and right until that man Tilsley struck again, this time with a perfectly well read and well-timed interception, to run eighty metres for a great individual score. Cooper converted to bring a close to play.As the game entered the final quarter, 'Street brought fresh legs to the fray with front interchanges,
Final Score: Broadstreet 33 Stourbridge 10.
Squad: Andrew Murray; Jeff Gregson, James Otutaha, Luke Myring, Ashley Elvers; Ben Cooper, Pierre Ferre; Joe Foreman, Stewart Pearl, Jake Dodd; Callum Tucker, Matthew Solomon; Beau Carney, Jamie Harrop (C), Jack Gibbons. Rob Dugard, Mike Worthington, Dan Martin, Nick Thatcher, Nathan Tilsley.
Thought for the Game: Much has been said in sporting circles about the habit of losing and its detrimental effect on performance. Such affect seemed evident in the last few games where the adoption of caution in trying not to lose, as opposed to going all out for the win, has been understandably haunting the proven skills of many individuals and the team. Something had to change! Whilst Stourbridge are suffering from the same losing malady this was, nevertheless, a notable scalp quite clinically taken. Proactivity as opposed to reactivity was the difference, with all players looking to up the tempo and intensity in seeking to work together. What was agreed in the week – just go and do it again fellas!