Stratford Upon Avon 35 Bridgnorth 13
Match Photos by Dave Cooper - CLICK HERE!
Bridgnorth travelled over to the home of Shakespeare but in the end were out played by a very strong and determined Stratford side who still have hopes of a top 2 finish. The travelling side had a large number of injuries and unavailability’s but were still able to put out a good side which shows the great strength in depth this 1XV squad has. Unfortunately on the day they didn’t perform to the very high standards and consistency they have set themselves this season.
Straight from the kick off Stratford turned over the ball and put pressure on Bridgnorth, pinning them down into the defensive 22 area. Bridgnorth started to string a few phases together and a break down the blind side put Usain Smeilus through to literally run 30 yards and calmly draw the full back to put Farrington over for the first try which couldn’t be converted.
Stratford hit straight back with another turn over after the kick off and spread the ball wide for their backs to break through and crash over with their solid kicker adding the extras.
Both sides were putting together a number of phases followed by turnovers but Darren Brick found a hole to broke clear taking the play deep into the attacking 22 until the ball went loose and the Stratford player hacked the ball all the way down the pitch to score a converted try.
Bridgnorth tried to fight back and a huge hit by Will Crossley against his opposite number allowed Bladen to get over the ball and win a penalty for holding on. Farrington slotted the kick through the middle of the posts.
Startford again upped their game and tempo with strong carries by the forwards and quick wide play from their backs constantly tested the Bridgnorth defence. A good set piece move from the home side backs sliced through and touched down for their 3rd try with the extras again added.
Unfortunately Farrington picked up a nasty ankle injury which meant a reshuffle with Gittings moving to fly half and Alvey coming on at 15.
Good defence by Grainger, Breakwell, and Brick held Stratford out until the last play of the first half where they crashed through after a number of pick and drives to stretch their score to 28-8 with the bonus point secured.
Strong words during the break from the Bridgnorth coaching staff helped rally the team into playing the correct style of play and the players reacted with more determined carrying with Ed John, Stirling, and Davies leading the way. Hooper then received the ball and put Brookes through for a certain try only the be pulled back by the referee for a forward pass.
Bridgnorth were trying to create something against a organised defence and good hands by Gittings, Cooper and Alvey spreading the play allowed a break by Brooks down the blind followed by an out the back offload to Brick who touched down to get them back into the game but conversion was missed.
Bridgnorth looked to stretch the opponents at any opportunity now and great skill by Mike “O’Driscoll” Preece to chip up a pass into his hands and make good ground but unfortunately took a knock to the head in the tackle and had to leave the field. More re-shuffling followed with Rugby 08 going onto the wing and Ramsey coming into the back row.
Most of the remaining second half was played around the centre of the pitch with neither side making great inroads but when Bridgnorth did make breaks not enough players were on hand to take advantage. This followed by a turn over by Stratford to spin the ball wide and take advantage of the overlap to score under the post in the last play of the game which was converted.
At the end of the day Stratford deserved the win and put in a very strong and resolute performance taking each any every oppotunity which will keep the pressure on 2nd place Bourneville. This has also now put the pressure on Bridgnorth who need to react positively with a big game at home this Saturday against Walsall followed by local rivals Whitchurch and Hereford where the All Blacks need 6 points to secure the league title. Come down this weekend to cheers on the lads.