NO COMEDY OF ERRORS AS ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL AS BOURNS BEAT THE BARD MEN FROM STRATFORD
BOURNVILLE 39 STRATFORD UPON AVON 19
Well the day finally arrived as both sides knew the result of this fixture would have some bearing on the top two spots in this very competitive league. The pitch was in fine fettle and with a slight breeze blowing right to left, the stage was set for battle to commence between 2nd and 3rd in the table separated by just one point.
Just one change in the Bournville pack. Hooker Ash Knight returned after an enforced absence. In the backs Tom Jarvis returned at centre. On the bench Dan McCue kept his place in the 18 after his performance at tight head last week. Back rower Richard Corr made his debut and flanker Chris Morgan returned from holiday.
From the outset it was clear that both teams weren't going to play "stodgy" rugby. Stratford had the better of the early exchanges without really threatening the Bourns 22. The defence stood firm as the visitors tried to prise a way open. Both sides exchanged penalties within the first 10 minutes. Bourns started to play the phases and gained good possession from the well functioning line out. No 8 Drew Harper was making many meters beyond the gain line and from one such charge, quick ball released the backs. Quick re-cycling and a change of direction saw the ball travel to the right wing where Stefan Cooksammy had a one on one. A delicate chip forward and a quick sprint saw the re-gather and a fine score in the corner. Stratford scored a penalty from a mistake at the restart so the lead was 8-6.
Both sides attacked each other but the defences remained intact helped by some stray passing with Bourns in particular guilty of missing opportunities. Both sides exchanged penalties in the last 10 minutes of the half but Stratford lost their hooker captain for 10 minutes due to some cynical play in the red zone. Bourns pressed but had to be content with an 11-9 lead at the half time break.
With the visitors still at 14, Bourns struck straight after the resumption of play. Bourns drove deep into the visitor's territory. Hooker Ash Knight crashed into the defence from an off the top line out move spreading defenders every where. From the next phase Ash picked up and took defenders with him as he crashed in near the posts for a converted score. Stratford got their captain back but his team were powerless to stop another quick move which was re-cycled so quickly that Ash once again exploited a gap in defence and ran 22 meters un-opposed to score once again at the posts. So 50 minutes gone and Bourns led 25-9.
This sparked a visitor recovery as they started to play a wider game. They scored two un-converted tries from fine back play particularly the second try which looked like a move from the training ground with a blocker and a loop creating space. So 25-19 as the game entered the last quarter, with both sets of supporters trying to get behind their team. The contest was settled as Bourns regained the ascendancy. A fine individual score by Stefan Cooksammy showing agility, speed and strength saw him cross the white wash and with Stratford playing catch up rugby, Bourns forced a turnover through great defensive pressure and centre Tom Jarvis picked up the loose ball and brushed off a would be tackler to run in from 40 metres. So a 39-19 lead going into the last 10 minutes which Bourns played out with little alarm to take 5 crucial points. Chris Humphrey's tackle on the opposition number 5 will long be remembered... So it's "as you like it" as Bourns cement their second place with a 6 point lead over Stratford with three games to go. Hereford are still in the mix as they continue to play catch up with their postponed home matches still to play out, however Bourns still control their season's destiny for the play-off spot with Bridgnorth nearly there for the title.
One of the best games seen at Bournbrook this season, well refereed given what was at stake, and the visitors more than contributing to an excellent advert for rugby at this level. Star man was no 8 Drew Harper who drove and carried magnificently all game and was a constant thorn in the visitor's defence. Bourns take a week off over Easter next week and gather next for their final, tricky away fixture in the regular season at Walsall on Sat 2nd April.
Team: 15, Paul Sumner, 14, Stefan Cooksammy, 13, Tom Jarvis, 12, Chris Humphrey, 11 Warren Oliver, 10, Alex Warner, 9, Sam Brown, 8, Drew Harper, 7, Bobbie Lawrenson, 6, Steve Handy, 5, Rob Griffin (capt), 4, Tom Holliday, 3, Terry Sigley, 2, Ashley Knight, 1, Steve Blackburn, 16, Dan McCue, 17, Chris Morgan, 18, Richard Corr.
Well the weather is slowly getting better and the trusty Nikon is allowed out to play. Fiddled yet again with a few settings on the new camera, not perfect, but I am getting there. Light is the photographers friend, as is Photoshop, so with a few hours tweeking I have managed to get a few more in focus ones this week. Pride of place, as the cover photo, has to go to Bournville's youngest supporter who has been turning up each week since before he can remember.
Unfortunately I got more involved watching the game than clicking the button, but 70 photos this week is enough. My favourite photo has to be Ash Knight running in for his second try. It has nice symmetry, good bokeh (look it up) and I was in the right place at the right time.
Don't forget, if for some perverse reason you want photos from this season, let me know and I will put all I have on a DVD, free of charge of course.
So HERE are the photos for the Stratford game.
Lee Sullivan aka Sully - Bournville's always friendly (and free) photographer