Old Brentwood 20 v 34 Stanford IV
IN what were ideal rugby conditions, Stanford took their 100% record to Old Brentwood’s for a top of the table clash.
Taking an under-strengthened side, Stanford were made to show their structure and defensive ability as Old Brentwood had the vast majority of possession within the first 15 minutes. Stanford were pinned in their own twenty-two but continued to stop the Old Brentwood attack. When a quick breakaway from Ryan Edgeway followed by several quick phases, the ball was shipped out to debutant outside centre; Nathan Hawkes, who backed himself to cut back inside and step through the Old Brentwood defence for a superb individual try. Calum Reid making the extras.
Old Brentwood then began to put the pressure on again and it was only a matter of minutes from the restart that they worked the ball wide and went in for the score, unable to make the conversion, Stanford still held the lead. Unfortunately Stanford were still unable to hold solid possession when off the back of a Old Brentwood turnover, a mid-hit clearance became a fluke chip and Old Brentwood was in again under the posts with the conversion being taken. Stanford now found themselves behind for the first time and their deficit was extended when Old Brentwood ran in another try from a well worked line-out move, with the conversion being missed. Before this Calum Reid had slotted a penalty for Stanford. It was during this period that Stanford were reduced to fourteen men due to a yellow card for repeat infringement at the breakdown and lost winger Jacob Cushing to a hamstring injury and was replaced by another debutant Mike Wittingham. At the half-way point Stanford found themselves 17-10 down, which considering the Old Brentwood possession was still a very close game.
Stanford began the second half with a change in the front row with Gareth Beach replacing Daniel May. They began with a lot more purpose and urgency and soon found themselves in the game a lot more, retaining possession and moving the ball with more efficiency their work at the breakdown was rewarded when Calum Reid knocked through a drop goal from just inside the oppositions 10-metre line. Shortly after with the wind in their sails, from a free kick given off their own line-out, Stanford’s quick thinking scrum-half Neil Cockrell, tapped and went and wasn’t touched as he scored to put Stanford back in the lead, Calum Reid putting away the conversion. However Stanford’s ill discipline at the breakdown was punished again with Old Brentwood knocking over a penalty to tie the score at 20-20. Having been reduced to 14 men themselves, Old Brentwood were now unable to keep up with Stanford’s forward pack. With surging carries from Harry Tillett and in particular Gary Burke, Stanford were marching down the pitch at will and after a sweeping backs move that was finished nicely by winger Jack Kenworthy, Stanford found themselves in the lead and in control, confounded when Calum Reid put away another conversion. With 20 minutes to go Kyle Munro entered the game at the expense of Matt Rumble and immediately made an impact at the scrum, an area in which Stanford had stood firm the whole game. Stanford were now in their own and Old Brentwood were running on empty, Gary Burke picked the ball up and ran the best part of 40m, backed up superbly by Liam Morley, after some quick ball amongst the forwards the ball was shipped out to the waiting Nathan Hawkes who was on hand to finish and complete his debut brace. Calum Reid again knocking over the extras. However there was still one last piece of defending for Stanford to do, pinned on their own try line for countless phases and down to 14 men again, Stanford held firm and forced the opposition into a mistake and came away at the final whistle with a 34-20 bonus point victory.
A game that showed immense character to soak a large amount of pressure and come away with such a victory, the entire team should be proud and looking forward to the visit of Bancroft next weekend.
Stanford’s Men of the Match were given to Luke Tyson for his tiresome work in the scrums and at the breakdown, and to Nathan Hawkes for an outstanding debut in the first team and a brace of tries.