AFTER the last two weeks of coming so close Stanford were determined not to come runners up again and from the off were in Phantoms faces. With just 2 minutes played Stanford were awarded a penalty for their pressure and Ashley Smith took the first 3 points of the day with ease. Receiving the kick Stanford powered forward. The Stanford pack were in defiant mood and the first two scrums both were won against the head thanks to Mark Harvey’s precise hooking.
With Harvey winning the ball the platform was set. Liam Morley picked up from the back of the scrum and linked with Ash Smith who drove through and over to get Stanford’s first try after 8 minutes. Smith stepped up and added the extra 2. Stanford were now dealt an almighty blow when Jamie Evans who had broken free and fended off two tackles twisted his knee whilst moving the ball on and only after 12 minutes his part in the game was over. Not having an experienced scrum half could have been a problem but Matthew Rumble having never played there before put himself forward to play in the pivotal role. A quick restructure saw Danny Jackson making his first 1st team appearance of the season at centre. Stanford was playing some great rugby with the pack so dominant and the backs allowed time to run Stanford were in full control.
On 32 minutes Morley was driven over the line by the pack but only after Joe Mccallum had broken free to be brought down inches from the line. Smith who had clearly brought his kicking boots made certain of the extra 2 points. Just on 39 minutes Jackson was sent to the bin for what was a deemed (later by the ref) as a marginally late tackle but the decision was made and Stanford accept the decision without complaint.
At half time Stanford knew that the game was not over and Phantoms were starting to get back into the game. What was called for was a positive start to the second half and that’s exactly what was done. After 3 minutes Morley crossed the line after some great link and support play, Smith this time from out wide cut the posts clean centre to add the extra points.
Within two minutes of his third try for the day Morley was once again grounding the ball behind the Phantoms line for his 4th. Gary Burke had taken the ball cleanly from the kick off and went route one, just handing off players at will only to be brought down agonisingly just metres from the try line. Smith again found his mark. Stanford were now clearly on top and showed there slight lack of experience by stepping off the pace, which Phantoms who had never given up took advantage off and with some very good strong runs and power play by their forwards they crossed the Stanford try line but were unable to convert the extra points. On the hour Gareth Beach gave way to Darren Latter and Aaron Smith for Max Murphy. With 12 minutes to play Stanford seemed to once again step up a gear. Stanford wanted to cross out Phantoms try and when the opportunity came from a penalty, Smith again from out wide hit his mark with pin point accuracy.
From the restart Stanford once again drove forward. This time Matthew Rumble who had really give the team his total commitment during the game was to score after he had supported some great powerful running by Jackson . Smith who had been 100% accurate all day long from anywhere sliced the conversion. With just 5 minutes to play Smith found himself in more or less the same spot to try and add another 3 points from an awarded penalty, however again he was wide of his mark but with stats of 6 kicks out of 8 and a try to his name no one was complaining. With the final whistle blown Stanford had taken their first win of the season 39 points to 5 with another bonus point for the number of tries.
A good performance and one to savour but also one learn from. Stanford 1st XV have a rest next week but on the 20th October host May & Baker at home which is going to be a very well contested game if Stanford keep putting in the performances.