Home advantage on the road for Wolves

Wolverhampton scored a last-gasp try to snatch

Home advantage on the road for Wolves
Home advantage on the road for Wolves

victory at Stafford and keep their title aspirations firmly on track.

Forward Ryan Home crossed the line in the dying moments to clinch a dramatic 27-24 win for the Midlands Two West (North) league leaders on Saturday.

The result leaves third-placed Stafford trailing Wolverhampton by 11 points and forwards coach Ian Harley spoke of his side’s delight at seeing off potential title challengers.

“They were our toughest opponents by far,” he said. “Generally we’ve tried not to get too excited, but this time with it being against Stafford, meant emotions were running high.

“Stafford are the second best team in the league, we have now beaten them twice this season.

“Realistically our result makes it very difficult for Stafford to win the league – we have a game in hand, we have 25 points to play for, and to catch up 11 points is quite a lot.”

In the first half, Stafford seized the initiative as Sefanaia Bulumakau and Dan Mills both crossed for the hosts, but a Nathan Parker score ensured it was 14-7 at the interval.

Harley felt his side were unfortunate to be trailing at the break and told his charges to keep the faith and remain calm.

“We didn’t think we were second best going into half-time,” he said. “But we made a few errors, and wasted half chances. The yellow card didn’t help and in those ten minutes they scored one try, before scoring another straight away.

“We told the lads not to panic and get through that period without conceding anything more. And second-half, we kept our discipline.”

Elliot Francis soon had Wolves back level after the restart, but Sam Egerton then edged the hosts in front before Parker replied with his second try of the match.

A Christian Ureche penalty nudged Stafford towards a win, but Home had the final say, crashing over for the decisive score.

Saturday’s victory maintained a three-point gap over Camp Hill in second with a game in hand, which comes in the form of an away trip to Tamworth this weekend.

Harley is already focused on his team’s next game and despite his side winning 50-0 against Tamworth earlier in the campaign, the coach is taking nothing for granted.

“Nothing is a given in this league,” he said. “We know it won’t be easy and Tamworth is a very tough place to go.

“We lost away to them last season. The pitch is going to be very heavy, the game was only called off two weeks ago, so I can’t imagine it has greatly improved.

“They will be a different proposition to the side we faced earlier in the season but we have won eight games in a row away from home, we don’t fear playing away from Castlecroft. And if we do win, it puts us eight points ahead of Camp Hill and in a very strong position.”

Wolverhampton pride themselves on free-flowing attacking rugby, but Harley believes it’s improvements made to the ugly side of the game that have been key in their rise to the top.

“In the past, we have had a bit of a soft underbelly,” he said. “We have been young and naive. But this year, the young lads are really coming of age and learning quickly.

“At times against Stafford, we didn’t play pretty rugby and the game wasn’t free flowing.

“But close contact rugby is not something we are scared of doing. Against Tamworth we may have to roll our sleeves up and dig in.”

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