Rugby: Stanford 22 v 14 Burnham
Stanford 1st XV continue their resurgence in the Essex President’s Shield with a win over Essex League 1 side Burnham.
Expecting a week off Stanford’s 1st XV were advised on Monday that they had been drawn against last season’s Essex League 2 promotion side Burnham on Crouch in the Essex Presidents Shield. This was going to be a tough game, last season Burnham had given Stanford two beatings on their way to promotion. However Stanford are not the side they were last year, after working very hard to build a new team they have started to show that they can now compete on the field of play.
A strong start is important to any side’s game plan and Stanford didn’t disappoint. From the kick off a great chase put Burnham under pressure and a battle ensued between the packs that would entertain for the whole 80 minutes.
Just on 5 minutes play Gary Burke broke off the back of a ruck and broke through two cover tackles to find himself one on one with Burnham’s fullback and just under half the pitch to sprint. Showing a great turn of pace Burke out ran the chasing defence, side stepped the full back and set the ball down under the posts. Calum Reid stepped up and made the 2 extra points with ease.
Burnham are a side to be respected as they are a side who know how to play some very good rugby and they now showed their team spirit by comeback at Stanford. After some very dogged defence by Stanford, Burnham broke through and levelled the score with a converted try just after 12 minutes of play.
The game was now being played hard and furious with neither side really getting a hold. Liam Morley had to make some quick decisions off the back of the scrum as Burnham’s heavier pack was getting the push on Stanford. But Morley is a strong runner and with ball in hand he bounced several tackles and sprinted over half way up the pitch to take Stanford back in to the lead, but the try was not converted.
For the next ten minutes Burnham managed to rattle Stanford and a bit of ill-discipline crept in. It was only Burnham’s finishing touch that let Stanford off before they managed to settle back down again.
Burke was fired up and carrying ball after ball into the opposition and on the 33rd minute he added to Stanford’s score line after some great play, combining both backs and forwards, sadly the try was not converted. Joe McCallum who so far this season has come so close to scoring several times, once again found himself with ball in hand and heading towards the line. Still with plenty of the pitch to cover and Burnham’s right wing to beat the 2nd row found a new trick to his skills with a deft grubber kick towards the posts. The weight of the kick was spot on and both Sam Herbert and Matthew Rumble gave chase at lightening pace just arriving 2nd to the covering Burnham full back.
With half time called Stanford had a well-deserved but hard fought lead 17 – 10. They knew to Burnham were not finished and if they relaxed in the 2nd half they would lose the lead that they had work so hard for. One change was made at half time with Matthew Murphy giving way to Greg Rumble at 2nd row.
A hard and fast start was asked for and again the Stanford players did not let the supporters down.
The Stanford pack from the restart was in control, a quick ball by Herbert onto Reid who drew his player and set Matthew Rumble on his way. Aaron Smith coming into the line called for a reverse pass which Rumble popped up into his diagonal run. Smith was stopped just short of the line by a good Burnham defence but they were seen to have knocked the ball forward. Stanford were awarded a try just 5 metres out. With the memory of Burnham having driven Stanford back and over their own line last season the pack wanted to return the favour. With a big call from pack leader James Hunter the pack responded and with great control guided by scrum half Sam Herbert, Morley was able to add the downward pressure required as the Stanford pack walked over the line, after only 4 minutes of the 2nd half.
Just before the restart Aaron Smith gave way for his brother Ash Smith, after Aaron felt unwell thought, to have been brought on from a blow to the nose in the first half.
The game now took a different turn with neither side getting any time on the ball. The game could have turned rather scrappy had the ref not taken control but Stanford where the side still making the mistakes and Burnham continued to pressure the Stanford defence. Several times Stanford found themselves encamped on their own try line but their determination and team work forced errors from the Burnham attack and they shut down the Burnham play when they pushed the ball wide.
It was only a matter of time before Burnham capitalised on their continued pressure and with 5 minutes to go they crossed the Stanford line and converted the extra 2 points. Burnham knew that time was against them so pressed towards the Stanford line to try and get another score but Stanford were not going to throw the game away and managed to keep Burnham at bay till the final whistle went to take a very well deserved win 22 – 14.
Next week Stanford 1st XV are back in league action hosting May & Baker at the Rec.