Ilford 32 v 25 Stanford
ON a ridiculously mild December Saturday Stanford’s 1st XV prepared to take on third place Ilford. Confident in their abilities Stanford took to the field with determination to go into the Christmas break in a positive way.
Ilford put the first score on the board when they won their own line out turned it into a rolling maul and drove Stanford over the line. Ilford’s pack were clearly much heavier than their hosts but with some quick tweaks the Stanford’s eight started to get to grips with the opposition after this.
Five points down and Stanford were dealt another blow when Hooker Sam Herbert was forced to leave the field with Sonny Smith taking over in the centre of the front row. Despite some excellent work Stanford found themselves defending another line out just short of their line and again Ilford employed a strong rolling maul. This time it took Ilford several attempts to cross the line but they eventually did to take the lead, 10 points to nil.
Stanford was putting together some very good moves, breaking the Ilford defensive line constantly which lead to a penalty attempt by Calum Reid after 25 minutes of play. Reid despite not striking the ball true had enough on it to bring his side onto the score board. At no time did Stanford look the weaker side, they were attacking well and defending with great resolve. Only minutes after Reid had kicked his penalty Stanford recycled a great ball from the forwards and the backs used their pace to link up with winger Nick Sharp who out sprinted his opposite number to score. Reid struck the ball well and the scores were all level at 10 apiece and that is how the score remained at half time.
Immediately after the break Ilford struck back with a well worked try of their own but were again unable to kick the extra points. This was a minor setback for the red men and almost straight away they struck back through Liam Morley, who’s strength and pace held off several attempted tackles and touched the ball down over the Ilford try line before he was pulled into touch.
Ilford had verbally disputed the Stanford score but minutes later were touching down themselves under what the home side thought was suspect downward pressure, with the official not full sighted it was the home sides touch judge that confirmed the try was good, proving despite the visitors concerns Stanford were prepared to play a true and fair game.
The back and forth scoring continued when Ilford scrambling to defend their lines infringed from the side of a ruck giving Reid his easiest penalty kick of the day. Ilford as if following a script took the next points through a try extending their lead, but by no means a comfortable lead.
Stanford had a formula of attack and it was working with Ilford having to defend time and again. As Stanford pushed back Ilford, the visitors were seen to have offended one too many times and the official showed a yellow card with just less than 10 minutes of the game to play. Despite being down to 14 men Ilford kept attacking and using the wind got behind Stanford to score their 5th try of the day.
Straight from the restart Stanford regained the ball and went route one knowing that full time was closing in. After strong runs from Reece Anderson and Ryan Edgeway, Captain Matt Rumble cross the line with minutes remaining. Reid knowing the urgency didn’t wait for a kicking tee he got the okay from the official and drop kicked the extra points to bring the home side within 7 points.
Stanford now threw everything at Ilford, Morley broke down the wing, the forwards drew the game in tight and Ilford saw a second yellow for more persistent offending. But despite the frantic nature in which Stanford were trying they just couldn’t make the plays count and as the ball was put in to touch the final whistle went and a very impressive game from Stanford ended. The final score 25 -32 in favour of Ilford.