Stoke keep their hands on their trophy after a nail-biter of a semi-final
Old Laurentian came to Hartwell Lane to play in the RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup and play they did
The game started very brightly for Stoke with Old Laurentian unable to get hold of the ball. Following good continuity between forwards and backs Ben Cornwall was released on the right hand side on a good angle and ran in a try under the posts after just one minute's play. The conversion was successful from Sam Christmas making it Stoke 7 OL 0. The perfect start for the side in blue.
This gave Stoke confidence and OL had to defend to stay in the contest. After an indiscretion for being offside by OL, a penalty was awarded to Stoke but was missed by Sam Christmas after eight minutes of play.
However, four minutes later another penalty was awarded and this time Sam Christmas was successful with his kick taking the score to Stoke 10 OL 0.
On the seventeenth minute OL were penalised again, this time for not retreating and the resulting kick was also unsuccessful. The Stoke faithful were hoping that these missed chances were not going to come back and haunt them.
OL started to come into the game more and in the twenty second minute, following a lost ball in contact from a Stoke attack up the right hand side of the pitch, the ball was transferred from left to right into the hands of the OL winger who had a fair turn of pace. After several missed tackles and some good hands from OL, the OL full back galloped over for a try under the posts and this was followed by a successful conversion by the OL fly-half. Game on at Stoke 10 OL 7.
Stoke responded and in the twenty sixth minute Sam Christmas converted a penalty kick given for offside.
Despite being 13-7 up, Stoke were forced to defend as OL had their tails up until the half-time whistle went.
After firm words from the coaches at half-time Stoke came out for the second half but were forced to defend again as the momentum was with OL.
In the forty third minute an attempted clearance kick from Chris Rowley was charged down and the OL number 11 ran in for a try in the left hand corner. The conversion kick was missed but now the score was Stoke 13 OL 12.
OL were pressing hard but dogged stoke defence kept their line intact.
On the fiftieth minute Andrew Marsh came on for his Stoke 1st Team debut replacing Gareth Townshend on the wing.
The pattern of play was unchanged with Stoke defending strongly against an OL side who were having the majority of possession.
In the fifty ninth minute Simon Price was sin-binned for hands in the ruck putting still further pressure on Stoke, but the resulting penalty was missed.
Then in the sixty third minute came the defining moment of the match.
Jordan Grimshaw received the ball near half-way and started off on a bullocking run. He swatted away several would-be defenders before crashing over the line to the cheers of the Stoke supporters resounding around Hartwell Lane.
Sam Christmas slotted over a difficult conversion attempt to make the score Stoke 20 OL 12.
The game wasn't over as in the seventieth minute, with Simon Price back on the field, Richard Meredith was sin-binned for the same offence, hands in the ruck.
Stoke saw out the final ten minutes of the game with strong defence preventing any further scores.
Stoke will now meet Lutterworth in the final on Saturday 17th of March at Hartwell Lane, after they beat Stafford 18-15 in the other semi-final.
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