Stanford V Clacton
After the very late postponement of last weeks fixture with Kings Cross Steelers, there was no doubt about the playability of the pitch at The Rec on Saturday. As close to perfect playing conditions as you’ll come across. The first fixture since the split of the leagues, Stanford were out to prove a point against Clacton, and it didn’t take them long to break through the Clacton defence with Neil Cockrell sniping through and getting the first points on the board. Stanford were dealt an early injury blow with front row Luke Tyson being forced off with Daniel May coming on to replace him.
However Clacton came straight back at Stanford with two tries of their own after eventually wearing down the Red Men’s fringe defence. Directly from the resulting kick off after great pressure on the catcher from Stanford’s chasers, Liam Morley was able to go over and give the home side their lead back. Extended further with a conversion from Calum Reid from the sideline. From then on, Stanford dominated every aspect of the game, highlighted with tries from Mike Whittington, Dominic McDonald and a second for Neil Cockrell. With Calum Reid slotting two more difficult conversions, Stanford found themselves 31-12 up at the interval. This was quite literally a game of two halves, with Clacton coming out completely refreshed and unrecognisable from their first half performance. Getting two early tries in the second half, again coming from a combination of strong running and poor tackling from the home side.
Despite a penalty from Calum Reid and an eight point lead. The away side were retaining possession well in their forwards and were not allowing the dangerous Stanford back line any ball, clearly learning from their mistakes in the first half. Clacton undoubtably had the wind in their sails, assisted when Stanford’s other starting prop forward was given an early shower for a physical altercation. Meaning a shuffle in the Stanford pack, Kevin Foley replacing Gary Burke, with Harry Tillet moving into the front row. Also making changes in the back line, Nathan Hawkes replaced Mike Whittington. Clacton smelt blood and it wasn’t too long until they forced their way over with another two tries in a matter of minutes to take the lead deep into the match. With only seconds remaining Stanford were able to get inside the oppositions twenty-two but were unable to capitalise. In a game that was as good as won, Stanford will mightily disappointed in only coming away with losing bonus points. They will be itching to put this performance behind them next time out. Despite the result special praise was given to Troy Elkes and Liam Morley for their individual performances.
Stanford Sirens vs Maidstone Ladies
On Sunday 29th, Stanford Sirens welcomed Maidstone ladies to the Rec for the second leg of their league fixture.
Sirens opened strong after winning the toss, with No. 12 Vicki Matthews gathering the kick off and making yards into the opposition half. With a few well placed steps and a quick turn of pace she touched down for the first try 30 seconds in! Patience stepped up to slot the kick adding 2 points.
Maidstone returned the ball kicking into the Sirens pack, No.4 Heidi Rumble gathered and drove hard into the opposition half, with a few phases from the forwards and some good rucking; Stanford Sirens were awarded a penalty as Maidstone’s impatience got the worst of them.
Quick to react Scrum Half Ellis Powell took a quick tap and made yards towards the 22 dishing the ball out to Katrina Richardson who looked to give the ball back inside to Ellis. With one last defender in between her and the line, Flanker & Captain Sophie Davies struck a superb support line to offer Powell an inside channel, Sophie gathered the pass to make her debut try for Sirens making the score 12-0.
Once again Maidstone kicked into the Sirens pack and with some well drilled rucks; were able to ship the ball out wide which fell short of the line. With momentum gaining from a series of knock ons, the Maistone ladies to started to put the pressure on the Sirens defence and held them in the 22. Staying calm and collected, Sirens were able to force a penalty as the Maidstone ladies were caught with hands in the ruck.
With intensity building the Sirens were brought into the opposition 22 with a clearing kick from Powell. Some hard work and perseverance payed off when Hooker Gen freed up the ball to allow Chloe Gounden to go over the line after a well worked back phase of play. Patience stepped up to add the points; 19-0.
The restart went soaring high and saw Front rows; Mikhaila and Nicole made dangerous runs towards the opposition 22. A quick turn over and knock on meant Sirens had a scrum in a good position which Powell capitalised on, with a quick show and go to touch down for try number 4.
10 minutes before the half time whistle, the Sirens were quick on the ball and fell just short of the try line and Maidstone were awarded the scrum.
With a good drive Maidstone gathered their own ball and distributed out to their fly half. Sirens No.8 Amber Patience showed great speed from the back to intercept the pass and score under the posts. Converting her own try; Patience ended the half 31-0.
Stanford Sirens entered the second half well but due to her defensive work and a misplaced tackle; scrum half Powell took a knock to the head and had to retire from the game. Number 13 Lily Stribling slotted into 9 allowing Lisa and Chloe Gounden to shuffle in.
Maidstone ladies had gained serious momentum in the opening moments which had the Sirens on a series of defence plays which saw numerous hard tackles from back; Vicki Matthews. With the buzz of her defensive work and a well timed turned over, Matthews was able to see the ball out wide to take her over for her second try. Patience slotted the kick making it 38-0.
With a few set pieces which stuck to the game plan; The Sirens were able to force Maidstone back into their 5 metre line which resulted in a Maidstone scrum. Lily was quick at 9 to pounce on their scrum half with Davies in support for the turn over, Kat dived over the line to make the score 43-0.
Maidstone kicked back into the sirens and with some well worked play and some hard running lines, Matthews was able to cut a great line to take her hat-trick with Patience adding the points.
No.10 Kat sustained an ankle injury close the end which saw her leave the field of play, however the Sirens were keen to continue despite the injuries and showed great momentum and determination to allow Matthews yet another try ending the scoring at 57-0.
All of the Stanford Sirens showed true sportsmanship throughout and every player gave 110%.
After a hard fought battle the Stanford Siren’s composure and hard work in training was demonstrated in the physicality displayed and overall result.
Players of the match included; Vicki Matthews for her strong defensive work, incredible work rate and set of tries. With Captain Sophie Davies taking forward of the match for getting her debut try and non stop effort throughout.
We welcome East London in the cup next Sunday at the Rec.
By Jared Gounden