Stanford 15 v 5 Bakers
STANFORD took a very close win at home earlier in the season, however with a number of 1st team players unavailable, debuts were given to three up and coming youngsters for the return match.
Normally a meeting between the two sides has it all, a close competitive game, good rugby, controversy and a nail biting finish, this game was not going to disappoint. This may not have been the best game to offer a first team debut to Jared Gounden, Mark O’Connell and Michael Kite but sometimes a baptism of fire is the best way to become associated with the step up and the three gave an outstanding performance. From the off Stanford were out of the blocks fast and aggressive, they knew the Bakers pack are a formidable foe so didn’t want to stand toe to toe with them so they kept the ball flowing with good link play they pushed the Bakers side back. After just 6 minutes Stanford had the first chance at points with a penalty wide out.
Calum Reid was just off target leaving the score all square. The play for the first 16 minutes was played in the Bakers half but a good clearance pushed Stanford back inside their 22 for the first time. Awarded a line out Bakers controlled a set move and drove Stanford back over their line to open the scoring with the first try of the game. From out wide Bakers couldn’t add the extra two points. Stanford hit back at their hosts and pushed their way back up the pitch. Now awarded a lineout of their own Liam Morley took the ball at the back spun away from the first tackle and went route one to the posts.
As Morley was brought down Ash Smith was on hand to take the pop up ball, with support on hand from Gounden, Smith was able to cross the line but was pushed away from the posts. Reid was again close but just was unable to add the extra two points. The remainder of the 1st half was end to end. Bakers took to clearing their lines with long in field kicks, hoping to push Stanford deep but Gounden was supreme under the high ball and he drew the oncoming Bakers players before offloading to full back Aaron Smith, who would set off into the space putting Stanford back into attack. On defence O’Connell was powerful tackle after tackle and his work driving into rusks was fearless.
The first half ended with honours even at 5 a piece. One change was made at half time with Aaron Smith coming off after tweaking his hamstring again, with his brother Ash taking over at full back and Michael Kite took over at inside centre. Only two minutes into the 2nd half Conal Maguire was replaced with Joe Mccallum after hurting his back. Mccallum was only on the pitch for 4 minutes when he was shown a yellow card for hands in the ruck.
The Stanford players could be heard driving each other on for more work effort whilst down to 14 men and they didn’t disappoint. From the penalty Stanford applied pressure and Bakers knocked on. A seven man scrum held the power of the 8 men of Bakers and Sam Herbert sent Michael Kite of on a strong powerful run forward. The ball was recycled and the Stanford pack took on the challenge with a rolling maul. As they crept closer, Stanford backs added a bit of extra weight, as the ball crossed the line Stanford fought to get the ball down. As the players drew back Ash Smith came up with ball taking Stanford into the lead.
Reid was spot on with the extra two points. With only one minute left on the sin bin clock Bakers finally managed to exploit the extra man and pushed their way over for their 2nd try but from wide out were unable to add the extra two points. The game went back into a deadlock game with both teams striking but being cancelled out by strong defence. With 24 minutes of the 2nd half gone Stanford were penalised in front of their posts and Bakers made the most of the error and took the lead for the first time in the game. Still locked in a head to head game neither team could get a steal on the other, until Bakers worked a fast ball out wide catching Stanford out of position. Baker’s winger was only a few metres from the line when Jamie McDermott caught the player but was deemed to have made a high tackle.
Confusion followed but the official deemed that the Bakers player would have scored if the high tackle had not been made so from the award penalty gave a penalty try, making the conversation easy. With ten minutes left to play and disappointed by the decision Stanford kept their composure and discipline throwing everything at the Bakers team and were awarded a penalty outside the 22 metre line just on 36 minutes. Morley asked Smith to step up, knowing that the points would bring Stanford back with 5. Smith didn’t disappoint and his kick just crept over.
The remaining 4 minutes saw Stanford try everything to get back under the Bakers posts. As time was up Stanford knew they had to keep the ball in play and did fantastically well to edge closer and closer but sadly it was just too far away and knocked on which brought the game to a close with Bakers taking a good but tight win 20 -15. Overall honours for the season had been shared with both winning their home games. A very good performance and been put in by both teams and in the after match analysis over some refreshments in the bar both clubs agreed the two teams had contributed to a very entertaining game. Bakers paid tribute to the 3 young lads making their first team debuts and that is something to be very proud of for those players and our clubs future.
Stanford 1st team take a rest next week before welcoming Brightlingsea to the Rec on 9th