Stourbridge continue to soar but Old Halesonians remain winless
Stourbridge host bottom of the table Wharfedale this Saturday aiming to continue their pursuit of the National Two North leaders.
Last weekend’s 41-17 win over Sheffield lifted was the third victory on the spin for the Stourton Park outfit and lifted them up to third in the table, six points behind leaders Hinckley.
Stour now face three teams in the bottom half of the table, starting with the visit of Wharfedale, who have lost 13 of their 16 league games this season.
Neil Mitchell’s men then face both Chester and Blaydon before the end of the month.
It took Stour just two minutes to claim the lead against a struggling Sheffield team, full-back Joe Heatley making a near instant impact when he scored an unconverted try.
When Jack Lea added another soon after, it seemed as though the hosts were in for a comfortable afternoon.
But Sheffield stunned Stour with two converted tries in the space of just three minutes from Fergus Wood and Rupert Broadley, taking a 17-10 lead in the process.
The scare would, however, prove to be short lived. Niall Gibbons and Thomas Dodd both scored to give Stour a 22-17 advantage at the break.
After that, the second half turned into a one-sided procession with the hosts scoring 19 unanswered points.
Lea and Dodd both went over for their second tries of the game before Sam Montieri completed the scoring on 77 minutes.
Old Halesonians remain rooted to the foot of the Midlands Premier table without a win despite one of their better displays in a losing effort against Lichfield.
The visitors eventually left Wassell Grove with a 31-15 victory but were pushed all the way by the hosts, who have learned much during a character building campaign.
Hales were on the attack fro the first whistle and set the tone of what was to come with a strong scrum. Pressure on the Lichfield defence eventually saw Tom King cross for a try converted by Ethan Walker.
Lichfield took time to find their stride but reduced the deficit when forward Stephen Gabbitass powered over.
Handling errors by the home side then saw the visitors take the lead when Luke Massey broke through the lines and fed Jon Doubleday to score.
But Hales were refusing to go quietly and a Walker penalty ensured they went in at the break with the scores tied at 10-10.
It was the home side who were then in ascendency during the early stages of the second half, skipper Carl Robinson leading from the front.
Pressure from the pack eventually told as Walker found winger Jay Reid, who sprinted clear to score and put Hales 15-10 up as the game ticked into the final quarter.
But poor handling and decision-making would again prove costly for Old Hales.
The hosts were reduced to 13 men when Walker and Wayne Cooper were both yellow carded.
Harvey Wootton scored to put Lichfield ahead by two points before the visitors drove home their advantage in the final ten minutes.
A lost scrum resulted in a penalty try which knocked the stuffing out of Hales, with Max Hughes crossing late on to notch Lichfield’s fifth try of the afternoon and seal a hard-fought victory.
The game continued evenly matched for the next 20 minutes with neither side dominating. Lichfield broke free for a forwards try to bring the score back to 7- 5. Hales started to control the game with dominant drives from Hamilton and back row trio, Josh Woodward, Adam Babb and number 8, Wayne Cooper.
However, handling errors by Hales allowed the visitors in for an unconverted try after 33 minutes to take the lead 7 - 10. From the restart. Hales made ground with intelligent kicking by Williams. More pressure forced a penalty against Lichfield which Walker slotted for 10 - 10 score at half time.
The early exchanges of the second half saw Hales in the ascendancy with skipper and centre Carl Robinson leading from the front in attack but particularly in his characteristic unstinting defensive effort. Hales pack continued to pressurise the visitors, producing ball for the backs. Keen took the ball from a line out, fed Williams who linked with Walker and finally winger Jay Reid who sprinted through the defence for a well worked try to lead 15 - 10.
The following exchanges cancelled each other out but Hales were in confident mood. Again decision making and handling let them down and on 63 minutes the visitors gathered and drove for the line using their big pack for a converted try to lead 15 - 17.
Lichfield now started to dominate and pressure resulted in 2 yellow cards in close succession for Hales with Walker and Cooper leaving the field for foul play. This disrupted the home side which allowed Lichfield to take advantage. On 70 minutes the visitors applied pressure in a scrum which saw Hales give away a penalty try, 15 - 25 to Lichfield.
The remaining minutes were not enough for Hales who were now struggling to take the initiative as Lichfield again took advantage for a final score on 77 minutes to win 15-31.