A Tale of Two Halves
Harborough 1sts fell to a surprise defeat at the hands of an inspired Stamford second half performance
With a dry and firm pitch in South Lincolnshire, conditions were ideal for a free flowing game of rugby. Harborough started slowly and found themselves 5-0 down after a few minutes as Stamford benefited from a spell of continues pressure.
The game came alive for Harborough and for the next 30 minutes they played free flowing rugby running in five tries from all over the pitch. Ed Parker's brace continued his fine season and Fraser Harrop popped over wide on the right. Michael Woodford bundled many defenders aside as he stormed the Stamford try line and Josh Purnell converted. Harrop scored the fifth try and it looked the combination of strong tackling and fine offloading would continue to give Harborough something to build on as they went into half time 5-27 ahead.
Harborough suffered a string of injuries to key personnel and gradually the game began to shift toward the home side.
Harborough gave away numerous penalties and hard won territory soon had Harborough camped in their own half. It looked like the Stamford pack had picked up three shredded wheat at half time and began a barnstorming last twenty minutes. A truly delightful if slightly fortunate bounce, catch and kick saw Stamford left wing scorched down the touchline to score a scintillating try. Another forward flurry saw the scores level at 27-27.
Harborough's positional changes began to effect their organisation and tackles that had been solid all season started to slip off as the marauding and confident Stamford pack grew in stature. It looked like Harborough might hold on for a draw but errors at scrum time saw the ball spill out, Stamford pounced at scored with the last play of the game to win 32-27
It would be to easy to be critical of Harborough's second half performance but sometimes a momentum builds for the opposition that becomes difficult to halt. What makes a team is the way it deals with defeats of this nature and by Stamford's own admission, their display of the season for which you have to give them credit. A moment of reflection and then remembering that feeling and put it behind you as you don't want to feel it again. So heads up and credit to this young side who have played some hugely entertaining rugby so far this season. Supporters and players alike will share the pain this evening but we'll move on stronger , battle hardened and more resolute for future encounters.