STAFFORD 1st XV vs WALSALL 1st XV. 8TH OCTOBER 2016. LEAGUE
It’s a blistering afternoon of rugby at the County Ground with four yellow cards and a last minute score to continue the unbeaten league home form for a battling Stafford.
Stafford 29 – 19 Walsall
Stafford welcomed Walsall to the county ground for the third home league game of the season. Walsall travelled with an impressive unbeaten record in the league and with the Stafford faithful unable to remember when the county town team last beat them it promised to be a good afternoon of rugby. The October weather poured out a watery sunshine with some ominous clouds on the horizon.
Walsall battered their way into the game and for the first twenty minutes laid siege to a defending Stafford. The home side smashed back the forays, with some huge hits being put in from both sides. The visitors continued to control the game, a yellow card reduced them to fourteen, but it didn’t interrupt their relentless attack. A penalty and unconverted try gave Walsall the lead before Stafford started to growl. A series of probing attacks rolled the visitors back down the pitch and they were forced into defence on their own try line. A concerted assault from the county town XV saw them crossing the line only for the referee whistle to signal it had been held up. A series of three scrums, with the put in changing sides, set the platform for the snarling pack to prise open the defence and Tom Windibank to crash across the line for a try, Lewis Dewsbury adding the conversion. Stafford went into half time trailing by 7-8, but having withstood a vicious mauling and fighting their way back into a tight game.
An inch perfect kick from Stafford restarted the game, snatched from Walsall hands and crashed down the pitch by a marauding Callum Hoy. The subsequent Stafford penalty was pushed through the posts by the boot of Lewis Dewsbury to give the home side the lead. An immediate response from Walsall saw the visitors playing running rugby to stretch the home side and cross for an unconverted try to wrestle back the lead. The visitors built on the momentum to pin Stafford in their own half, but a scything run by Api Apimeleki tore through the centre of the Walsall line and as the ball flew along the line only strong tackling kept Stafford out. The competition in the game was intense with both sides fighting hard and smashing each other back. A brutal run by Lewis Dewsbury forced through a battling defence to earn a penalty in sight of the posts, catching his breath Dewsbury stepped up and slotted the ball to tie the game. A Walsall penalty stole the lead back and with an injury to Lewis Dewsbury it was Stafford looking under pressure. The home side wouldn’t lie down and the elusive running of Quade Boal kept the visitors defence unsettled. Stafford were reduced to fourteen courtesy of their first yellow card of the game and with an advantage in the scrum the visitors added another penalty to stretch their lead. Within a few minutes of each other a yellow reduced Walsall to fourteen and Stafford to thirteen, leaving a tired home side to endure the closing five minutes of the game. A heroic performance from both sides saw bodies littered across the pitch and players slowly limping back into a game which neither side would concede. With fourteen players back on the pitch the clock looked to have beaten a valiant Stafford effort. However the disruptive Quade Boal continued to probe and with a burst of acceleration ripped through the Walsall centre. With one man left to beat a spinning pass released Cal Jones to cross the line for a try and put Stafford within a point. As a hush descended around the ground Cal Jones stepped up for the conversion and the home side erupted as the ball spiralled between the posts for the win.