Friday, December 2, 2022

Rugby: Stanford comes up short in the final seconds of play

Brightlingsea 22 v 20 Stanford

THE STANFORD lads wanted to extend their winning run and were determined to make the hour long journey to the far reaches of Essex a successful one.

Joe McCallum set the team on the right road after just 8 minutes. Brightlingsea attacking the Stanford line knocked on, with the ball rolling loose and advantage called McCallum fly hacked the ball clear of all the Brightlingsea players, it was a foot race to the ball, with McCallum reaching the ball first he gave it another nudged that saw it going skimming into the in goal area, all he had to do was stay ahead of the fast approaching winger and dab down, the 2nd row had the legs and put Stanford 5 points ahead. Ash Smith stepped up and added the 2 extra points.

Only four minutes later Stanford where flying towards the Brightlingsea line with full back Aaron Smith sprinting onto a great backs line passing moving and offloading to winger Rhys Smith-Allen who just couldn’t keep a firm grip on the ball, but the attacking line break was to be Aaron Smith’s last part in the game as he pulled his hamstring. Off went Smith and on came Max Murphy to take over wing duties and Smith-Allen slotting in at full back.

It has to be said that Brightlingsea were playing a very good controlled game with deep route one runs, text book attack 2 or 3 hits and then spread the ball wide. Stanford was working extremely hard to keep their hosts at bay.

Brightlingsea were making a number of handling errors and one of these allowed Ash Smith to step up and add 3 extra points from a penalty on 15 minutes.

Brightlingsea were encouraged by their own play and kept driving into the Stanford defence and after 28 minutes they were rewarded for their efforts out wide but were unable to convert the extra 2 points. The Brigthlingsea team were now galvanised and once again kept smashing directly into the Stanford line with success, on 35 minutes they crossed the Stanford line with the added conversion to take the lead.

On 37 minutes Stanford were dealt another massive blow when inform 10 Ash Smith went the same way as his brother having to leave the field of play with an ankle injury. Another quick restructure saw Matt Rumble take up the 10 slot and Troy Elkes fit in at inside centre.

The first half came to a close with the hosts edging the closely contested game 12 -10.

The Stanford team gave each other a positive boost at half time and this showed after only 2 minutes when Liam Morley swotted several Brightlingsea tacklers away but was brought down after stumbling over the winger, Calum Reid at 9 feed the Rumble a quick ball who in turned set Elkes on his run, with Rumble looping around Elkes who had burst through the gain line he took the ball and touch down in the far corner. With Smith off Reid took over kicking duties and with the wind in his face was unlucky as his kick came back off the post.

Although Stanford were now back in the lead Brightlingsea were not finished and answered with a try and conversion of their own 2 minutes later to retake the lead.

Now came the weirdest piece of play of the whole game, the Stanford pack who had been in a very tough contest gave Morley the ball from a scrum and he set off again bouncing tackles. Morley was

clear with no one else to beat no passes, and no other Stanford players where involved in the move but the whistle went and he was brought back to be awarded a penalty for what had been deemed as a dangerous tackle against him, nothing came from the following penalty.

The Stanford players were still in the contest with James Hunter, Gary Burke and Troy Elkes all taking their opportunities to hit hard into the Brightlingsea defence. One such move again saw the Stanford backs and forwards link to create a scoring try in the corner for only to be let down by the final pass and the ball was knocked on.

With Brightlingsea being awarded the scrum just inside their 22 metre line, it was obvious that a clearance kick was the option that they would take. Pack lead Hunter called his fellow forwards to give a huge effort and this they did making it very hard for the Brightlingsea 9 to get clean ball, Reid was straight on his opposite number and the pressure meant a rushed poor pass which lead to a rushed kick which didn’t make touch and Morley was first to the ball as it came back down and there was no stopping him from crossing the line. Reid again was just short with the conversion but Stanford had the lead back if only by one point.

As the game closed it was clear that neither side were giving up on taking the spoils. It was Brightlingsea who were ending the game on the front foot and were awarded a free kick with no time for a lineout the last play of the game was called. Stanford was set on their try line and ready to repel the attack. Brightlingsea came head on but the Stanford line held firm and turned over the ball, Burke heard the cry’s for the ball to kicked off the pitch which he did but this was block by a Brightlingsea player who was clearly off side. Brightlingsea recycled the ball to the centre of the pitch but again the Stanford defence was strong and as the ball appeared at the back of the ruck on the Stanford side and was just about to be cleared from the pitch the Stanford players were pulled back for being off side.

Brightlingsea had the easiest of kicks directly in front of the posts to close the game with a 2 point win 22 – 20.

Next week Stanford travel to East London to play Kings cross Steelers.


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