It was a fine spring day at Stoke RFC for Wolves in their first County Cup final.
A certainly a no-brainer that a Wolves vs. Stafford Cup Final was always destined to be an close & intense encounter following the pattern of all previous matches between the two sides over recent years. True to form that’s exactly how it materialised.
The game itself was a terrific advert for the sport with two highly committed evenly matched sides going head to head playing the game with a bruising intensity and no shortage of skill.
The first half saw both sides battle for superiority particularly at the breakdown in the ensuing rucks & mauls and at the setpeice with both packs holding nothing back. The initial momentum was with the Wolves 15 who for the first twenty minutes pushed the reigning champs back into their own 22. First blood fell to Wolves after 15 minutes with Flanker Sean Casey
getting over the Stafford line from close range following a sustained push by the Wolves pack. Scrum Half Tom Jones
duly converted giving the boys in black a seven point lead.
Stafford 0 Wolves 7
However as the game progressed the Stafford 15 gradually got themselves back into the match and it was not long before momentum swung into their favour. Soon enough they drove the Wolves pack backwards following a determined push which resulted in their scrum half scoring and converting their first try to level the scores just before half-time.
Stafford 7 Wolves 7.
For much of the half both sets of forwards went head to head with few opportunities to get the ball out wide. When the chance did arrive both sides cancelled each other out as the strike runners on either side were closed down quickly.
Half-time: Stafford 7 Wolves 7
The second half was pretty much a carbon copy of the latter stages of the first with the momentum firmly in the hands of the reigning champs nonetheless there was little to choose between the two sides.
As the half progressed the experience of more playing more big games began to show as the Stafford 15 kept Wolves in their half of the pitch and eventually that experience paid off as the Stafford scrum half breached the Wolves line for a second time following another forwards push into the Wolves 22. This time the scrum half only managed the try to give Stafford a five point lead.
Stafford 12 Wolves 7.
The remainder of the half saw Wolves to their credit battle on hard showing great determination and commitment. There certainly was no let up in the intensity and in the final minutes a tiring Wolves 15 shipped a late penalty to give Stafford an unassailable lead.
Final score: Stafford 15 Wolves 7.
In conclusion to defeat the reigning county champions was always going to be a big ask and unfortunately the Wolves squad were beaten by a better side on the day. Nontheless they played a significant role in making the game the fine spectacle it was and despite the outcome the boys in black remained unbowed and fully committed to the end which is a testament to their mental strength and fitness.
No doubt the squad will take on board the lessons of the defeat and use the experience in a positive way – the team can only improve and there is always next year. Maybe we can go one better again like we did this year.
Well done boys!
Match Squad: Marinus Augostine
: Amar Baden
: Cameron Bahia
: Rhys Bevan: Sean Casey
: Rob Chapman
: Zac Christie: Eeshvar Singh Boparai: Adam Ellis
: Matt Evans
: Dan Farr
: Freddie Houlder: Alex Hyde: Luke Jones
: Tom Jones
: Matt Laycock
: Conner Parker: Oliver Pemberton: Scott Russell
: Mark Sage
: George Smailes
: Andrew Smith.
Injured Squad: James Arnold
: Matt Corden