Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rugby: Stanford prove their point against Brightlingsea

Stanford Le Hope 52 v 7 Brightlingsea

London & SE Division – Essex (Spitfire) League 2

Stanford 1st XV vs. Brightlingsea 1st XV

By Graham Loughran

HAVING been beaten by Brightlingsea earlier in the season, by some dubious decisions, Stanford wanted to prove a point to their guests.

The talk during the week was how annoyed the Stanford players had been when they lost to Brightlingsea earlier in the season and this was going to be their motivation for the game. However Brightlingsea started strong and on the first minute were awarded a penalty when Stanford was caught not releasing the ball after contact. The kick went wide and Stanford was let off. Three minutes later Brightlingsea had another attempt at the posts when Stanford was pinged for coming in at the side of a ruck. Once again Brightlingsea was off the mark.

Stanford now ventured into the Brightlingsea half for the first time and was awarded a penalty of their own after a high tackle. Calum Reid was close but just wide so the scores remained all square. Now down in the Brightlingsea half Stanford kept up sustained pressure and another penalty followed, this time a kick to touch was called.

From the line out Stanford knocked on and a scrum was awarded to Brightlingsea. The Stanford scrum had been solid this far and being only 5 metres out gave them even more drive. Kevin Foley back in the team after 14 months out because of injury struck quick and true winning ball against the head. The Stanford pack now walked steadily towards the try line, Brightlingsea frustrated by the constant pressure at the scrum pulled down the march and then drove in from off side, which left only one decision a penalty try. Reid stepped up and added the extra two points. Twenty minutes played and Stanford lead 7 – 0.

Stanford had a strong bench to choose from so tactical substitutions were made to keep the pack fresh, with Robert Morgan giving way to Danny Jackson at open side flank and Matthew Murphy swapping with Aaron Kempster for his 1st team debut at loose head.

The remaining of the first half saw Stanford dominate the scrums, pushing off Brightlingsea on their ball or striking against the head to also secure the visitors ball.

At half time only encouraging words were needed as the coaches knew that the second half was going to be Stanford’s, if they continued as they had played in the first. Murphy and Kempester swapped once again in the front row, with Troy Elkes back after injury, giving way to Aaron Payne in the centres.

Stanford started with intent, a long kick down field saw Jared Gounden close down the Brightlingsea full back who had no other choice but to run back over his own try line and then under pressure touch down to awarded Stanford an attacking scrum 5 metres out. After 6 minutes of play the strong Stanford pack set the platform for Gary Burke to score the first try of the 2nd half. Reid was clinical and dissected the posts to add another two points.

Brightlingsea were now penned back in the own half but Stanford were again pinged for hands in the ruck. A long kick to touch was caught on the run by Nick Sheard around by his ankles, he then made even more of the error, by running 20 metres back towards the try line. As he was tackled he off loaded to Jamie McDermott, who continued the run to the line, he was backed up by Ash Smith who set up a ruck just outside the 5 metre line. Reid’s quick service to Burke saw him dive over the line for his 2nd of the half. Reid added the extra points to extend the Stanford lead after 10 minutes of play in the 2nd half to 21 – 0.

It now seemed like Stanford had broken the will of Brightlingsea. The pack still dominated at every break down and Reid was able to give great service to his back line. Sixteen minutes into the 2nd half Reid spun the ball right, Gounden took the ball just metres out but instead of being selfish, he showed awareness and maturity, by flicking on a perfectly timed pass taking out the covering defence allowing Aaron Smith to dive over the line, just near the corner flag. Reid was clearly on form and slotted the kick from almost on the touch line, 28 – 0 and a bonus point for 4 tries.

After the restart and 4 minutes of play Brightlingsea were awarded a penalty inside their 5 metre line, after Stanford’s hands let them down and knocked on. The pack gave Foley a strong platform, he struck against the head and Danny Jackson who had switched to number 8 picked up from the base of the scrum and bounced the tackle attempt to bring the score to 33 – 0.

Stanford just kept attacking and Brightlingsea did everything they could to force back the onslaught. Awarded a lineout after forcing a Stanford attack out of play, the Brightlingsea ball was taken mid-air by Matthew Rumble and dropped down to Reid at 9. Jared Gounden who had now swapped to inside centre from wing, took the ball just outside the 22. His line of run was direct, he stepped and handed off 5 tackles before the final tackle slowed him down but not enough, his momentum carried him forward to score his 1st senior try for the club, which resulted in the biggest cheer from the side lines. Reid didn’t miss and the score after 25 minutes of the second half was 40 – 0.

More pressure saw Stanford back in front of the Brightlingsea posts 5 minutes later but once again the Stanford hands let them down. Brightlingsea reacted faster and sprinted the whole length of the pitch to score under the posts which they easily converted to bring the score to 40 – 7.

Stanford continued to use the subs rotation to great advantage bringing on fresh legs. Morgan now back on the pitch had been winning lineout ball at will so when the pack again powered their way to the try line and Morgan came up with the ball for his first Stanford try, the pack were elated for their team mate. Reid knowing there was only 5 minutes left and having the confidence drop kicked the conversation to get the game restarted as quick as possible, 47 – 7.

This proved to be a great tactic as Stanford continued to keep the pressure up and rucked their way towards the try line, with time up Matthew Murphy drove low across the line for Stanford’s 8th and final try, closing out the game at 52 – 7.

A man of the match performance was awarded to Conal Maguire for his constant ball carrying, solid 2nd row display and hard hitting tackles.

Next week 16th February, Stanford plays hosts to Kings X Steelers.


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