Stanford U17s v Dover U17s
Stanford U17s started the season with a tough encounter with South Kent side Dover. The Kent side started the stronger team and put Stanford under pressure from the kick off. A number of well controlled mauls moved Dover closer and closer to the Stanford line and eventually the ball was shifted out wide and a try scored. The Dover kicker converted and the visitors were 7 points up. Further pressure was soaked up and it looked like Dover may have scored again but the referee deemed it a double movement and no try was awarded.
The home team began to contest better at the breakdowns and No 10 Adam Ward kicked good field position to put Stanford in a position to threaten the Dover line. A good break away from the side of a ruck saw prop forward, Ryan Edgeway cross the line but sturdy defence held the ball up and prevented the try. Minutes later No 8 Mark O’Connell crossed the line but again the Dover defence go underneath the ball carrier and no try could be given.
Stanford struggled to function effectively in the set pieces but made up for it in open play ad at the breakdown. Tom Tressider had a difficult time behind a retreating scrum and the Stanford backs always seemed to be on the back foot. However, pressure from the Stanford back row forced errors and one such error saw winger Nicholas Sharp intercept a pass and sprint a good 30 metres to score in the corner and put the home team on the scoreboard.
The conversion was out wide and was missed and half time arrived with the score Stanford 5 Dover 7
In the second half the Stanford side was more confident and began to get their act together at scrums and lineouts and spent more time in the Dover half of the pitch than the first half. Tackling was better in the second half and players were getting to the breakdowns more quickly. Arri Pike was having a storming game as flanker and he made a nuisance of himself at every possibility! Both teams fiercely contested rucks and mauls but infringed far too often in this area. Dover were the sharper at penalties and frequently caught Stanford Off guard with quickly taken penalties.
Dover were making progress towards the Stanford line but a loose pass went to ground and speedy winger John Earley scooped up the ball and dodged the Dover Full back to run in an excellent individual try under the post. Adam Ward slotted over the conversion and the Stanford side was ahead 12 – 7. This score woke up the Visitors and they put together some great rugby and camped near the Stanford try line. The home team was determined not to allow a score and some superb tackling just held out to give the U17s a confidence boosting win to start the season.
Final Score Stanford 12 Dover 7
The Stanford coaches were pleased with the lad’s efforts and determination in a tough opening fixture. Fitness was good and the tackling sound. More work is needed at set pieces and that will be the focus for this week’s training.
Next week Stanford U17s play host to Chelmsford B U17s. Stanford players of the match were Arri Pike and John Earley. Hooker, Sean Thompson was awarded the toilet award for not returning the award from last season. Will he ever learn?