Rugby: Solid start to the season for Stanford
Date posted: 11-09-2012
Drawn against the same team in last year’s cup it was a chance to see how the Stanford team had improved over the previous season.
Last years match was a very one sided affair and ended suddenly when one of the Thurston players sustain a terrible leg break.
The Stanford lads wanted to make a better showing this year and wanted to start their season off with intent. Any pre-season nerves were not on show, the Stanford players were very vocal getting behind each other and this followed through into their team play.
The first few minutes was a real contest of power and aggression with both teams trying to set the pace of the game. Thurston had the first opportunity to get on the score board but missed a fairly easy penalty kick. Only two minutes later they had a second chance to open the scoring, this time the Thurston kicker was on target.
Stanford brushed this minor setback aside and straight from the restart pressured the Thurston pack. Stanford pushed the Thurston players back phase after phase. Gary Burke carried the ball straight at the Thurston defence which he broke, only being brought down by several Thurston players. Captain Liam Morley pounced on the presented ball and finished off the move with a power house drive over the line. Sadly Ashley Smith back in the side for the first time for over a year after injury was just wide of the mark.
The game remained tight during the first half with it being played from end to end. Stanford’s defence was amazing several times they repelled the Thurston onslaught forcing handling errors and receiving turn over ball.
Close to the end of the first half Thurston produced a powerful rolling maul which Stanford just couldn’t stop and Thurston took back the lead without converting, this was not the last time this move was to be used in the game.
With two minutes to go Gary Burke was substituted but the officials deemed this to be a 2nd blood bin and ruled that his part in the game was over.
The Stanford players knew they had the measure of Thurston but also knew that this was a side that had come 2nd in their league last year and was a team that could win games. So on their guard and determined to show their hosts that they were there to play the Stanford players took to the field for the 2nd half.
Stanford now had to defend with all the might as Thurston really started to throw everything they could find at their guests. Stanford held firm and really pressured the Thurston attack.
Stanford had some great breaks of play and both Matt Rumble and Aaron Smith could have gone over if it wasn’t just for the final execution in play.
Thurston managed to grab one try midway through the 2nd half but couldn’t pull away from the dogged Stanford side. On the hour Troy Elkes making his debut for Stanford gave way to introduce another debutant Raymond Ndhlovu.
Thurston now brought back into their game plan the rolling maul with annoying effect 3 times.
When the final whistle went the Stanford players were over joyed with their performance of course one game doesn’t make a season but if they can take that into the coming league games then the season will be very enjoyable.
Extra mention should go out to James Pearce who was Stanford’s 3rd debutant and also Darren Latter who stepped up to fill the void of a front row replacement. Darren’s selfless approach and team spirit was bourne out when he requested not to be played despite traveling 2 hours to get to the game and as the pack were competing so well.
With 10 minutes to go pack leader James Hunter made way to make sure Latter got to show the Thurston pack what he had to offer.
Also results from the weekend played at home
Stanford 2nd 15 – Runwell 1st 12
Stanford Youth section were all victorious this weekend
Burnham u13s 0 – Stanford u13s 98
Westcliff u14s 19 – Stanford u14s 31
Stanford u15s 27 – Wanstead u15s 10
Dagenham u16s 39 – Stanford u16s 43