STAFFORD 1st XV vs NEWCASTLE 1st XV. 8TH APRIL 2017. LEAGUE MATCH.
Travelling Newcastle storm the County Ground to snatch the victory and secure league safety.
Stafford 17 – 25 Newcastle
Stafford welcomed Newcastle to the County Ground for the last home game of the season. This was a crunch match for the Staffordshire neighbours, with only three points separating them and two games remaining, the winner would move a step closer to league safety.
Stafford had the better of the opening exchanges and most of the rugby was played deep in the Newcastle half. Rhys Williams and Will Hamplett came close to scoring the first points of the game but a tenacious visiting defence kept them out. The Newcastle boot kept relieving the pressure for an intense first quarter of rugby. Stafford wouldn’t lie down and with a sustained rumble from the forwards, Kev Bunter crashed across the line for the opening try of the game. Newcastle responded with some consistent rugby and got their reward through two penalties to take the lead. A third foray into the Stafford half saw a converted Newcastle try to close the half. Stafford went into half time trailing by 5 – 13, but having had the territorial advantage throughout the half.
Stafford came flying into the second half smashing their way to within touching distance of the opposition try line. A succession of penalties lead to Newcastle incurring a yellow card and reducing them to fourteen on the pitch. Further infringements saw Stafford being awarded a penalty try, converted by Louis Dewsbury. The home side looked to be wrestling back control of the game when an intercepted ball lead to a second Newcastle try against the run of play. A second Newcastle yellow disrupted the visiting numbers on the pitch but didn’t stop the North Staffordshire team crossing the line for their third try of the afternoon. Stafford tried to fight their way back into the encounter, but were finding it difficult to battle their way across the line. Their patience was rewarded when a scything run by Louis Dewsbury tore apart the defence and a supporting Matt Walklate collected the ball to score a consolation third try.