Stanford 1st XV vs. Pegasus Palmerians 1st XV
13 man Stanford stops Pegasus's 7 match run.
On a crisp fresh Saturday inform Pegasus travelled the few miles to play the local derby against Stanford. These games are always a tense and tight affair but earlier in the season Pegasus had taught the Stanford team a lesson in how to play rugby and that still hurt so the Stanford players were ready to show the supporters what they were made of.
From the off Pegasus were the dominate side and for 10 minutes the game was played in the Stanford 22 but the determination, sheer grit and hard training showed from the Stanford side and they held firm. No matter what Pegasus tried Stanford was a match. As the game progressed the teams were locked in a full on competitive game which was largely played in the centre of the pitch.
The scrums were well contested with props Stephen McWilliams and James Hunter grinding out a power struggle for front row domination, which they were very bit a match. Sam Herbert at scrum half was all over his opposite number and distributing ball to the backs to give the fast play. Fly half Calum Reid was commanding his backs up fast and running the attacking show.
Neither side could say they had the lion share of the play but as the 1st half came to a close Pegasus got the first break in play when Conal Maguire was yellow carded for coming off his feet at a ruck. The penalty that followed was easy for Pegasus and they took the lead with only 5 minutes left.
The way the game had been played so far no one would have bet that the 1st half wouldn’t draw to a close with Pegasus taking a 3 point advantage but they would have been wrong. Liam Morley took a quick ball off Herbert and went on a fast forward run driving through three tackles. Being brought down the Stanford support was straight in giving Herbert quick clean ball. The ball was sent out through the backs with Full back Aaron Smith coming in hard and fast scoring in the corner on 40 minutes. The conversation just died and the extra 2 points were not added.
No changes were made at half time as the current 15 had been playing so well any changes at that point may have affected the teams play. The decision seemed to prove correct when only 3 minutes into the second half Stanford were awarded a penalty which Reid slotted taking Stanford into a 5 point lead.
Just back to 15 men Stanford were dealt another blow on 6 minutes, when Danny Jackson was shown red for poor discipline, after reacting to horrendous stamping by the Pegasus pack, which went unpunished. A quick change was made with Troy Elkes giving way in the centres for Matthew Murphy to take over on the flank of the scrum for Jackson.
It took Pegasus another 7 minutes before they could exploit the extra man and crossed the Stanford line to bring the scores back level at 8 all. Stanford was not done my any means and they kept pushing to get back in front. Several times Stanford were awarded penalties from a long way out but without fear Reid stepped up to try his best for his side, sadly each time the kicks were just off from gaining the valuable points.
The game continued with lots of collisions all over the pitch and it was only time before the game flared up and this saw Gary Burke of Stanford and one of the Pegasus players set for 10 minutes of cooling off time. Now down to 13 men Stanford were determined to not let this game slip but on 24 minutes of the second half Pegasus were awarded a kickable penalty to take the lead.
However Stanford had so much determination that immediately from the kick off the Stanford pack chased down the restart and they were awarded a penalty when Pegasus hands were caught in the ensuing ruck. Reid stepped up with composure. Reid’s kick struck the upright and Herbert was first to react catching the ball before it hit the floor, all Pegasus could do was again to give away a penalty to stop the Stanford on rush. This time in front of the posts Reid brought his side back on level terms.
There was no quarter given by each side and the Stanford players were working so hard in attack and defence. With both teams sin bin time up the 14 men of Stanford were not just holding the 15 men of Pegasus but attacking and doing it well. With 7 minutes left to play of the second half, Pegasus were shown red for persistent offending, evening up the sides for the first time since the first 6 minutes of the half.
With the sides all level it looked like a draw was on cards but Stanford had other ideas. The ball was mauled in the centre of the pitch and then released out to Reid who released Morley. Morley had no intention of being stopped yet the Pegasus’s full back had other ideas and clothes lined Morley. Both teams reacted to the high tackle which resulted in Gary Burke being shown a second yellow card making it red, for rushing in to try and keep the peace. Despite a high tackle only a penalty was awarded against Pegasus.
On 39 minutes of the 2nd half Reid had the biggest pressure kick of the season. If it goes over Stanford were sure to have won and stopped the Pegasus winning run. Reid’s kick despite being wide out was accurateand had a fair bit to spare.
The last minute was a frantic affair with Stanford trying to regain the ball from the kick off and running the clock down. As the final whistle blew a huge cheer went up and the elation could be seen on the Stanford players faces.
It was truly a team effort from Stanford; each player gave everything for their team mates. Despite the game boiling over sometimes both sides left all the silliness on the pitch and congratulated each other on a really hard fought game, which is commendable to both sides.
Stanford now has a mini winning run of 3 games in a row and every chance of finishing higher in the league.