Cannock welcomed Telford to the Morgan Ground for the final game of the season. Both teams were occupying mid-table and looking to close off the year with a victory to help start the festive season early.
After 10 minutes of possession, it was Telford who struck first and after some effective phase play, Telford’s second row evaded a number of tackles to finish off an impressive 40m run between the sticks. A simple conversion put Telford 0-7 up and left Cannock with work to do.
Lions’ fly half Scott Pedley used some tactical territorial kicks to allow Cannock to establish a foothold and build momentum and solid lineouts from Cummins found Freeman and Frost without fault and the pressure continued to build. Territory eventually gave way to points as one of many Cannock scrums was dominated by the front row and second row power, which allowed Freeman to pick up 10 meters out and skilfully swerve past a number of defenders to dot down and put Cannock on the score board after a deserving 15 minute spell. 5-7.
Cannock saw out the majority of the first half in Telford’s half but were unable to convert pressure as handling errors and wayward passes halted a number of promising attacks. Frustration turned to ill-discipline, which quickly turned to points and Telford’s 10 bisected the posts just before half time to extend their lead. Half time 5-10.
Cannock responded quickly in the second half and further solid lineouts allowed Cartwright to feed the returning Stanaway brothers, who gained yards through the middle of the park. Telford were again peddling back as strong runs from Humphries and Jukes added further menace out wide. It was close phase ball from the forwards which dealt the devastating blow as Frost delicately offloaded to the supporting B Stanaway who battled over the line from 5 yards out. S Pedley easily converted to nudge Cannock ahead. 12-10.
Telford were handed a chance to immediately establish the lead as a fumbled catch from the restart found a pacey Telford winger with a one-way ticket to the try line; only to be denied by a devastating, trademark cover tackle from S Stanaway. The scrum to reset the game was once again dominated by Madsen, Cummins and Barrett; who had provided a steady platform throughout the day and Cannock once again ventured back into Telford territory with strike running from Brookes and P Pedley. Swift offloading from Freeman and menacing lines from Stanaway only added to Telford’s problems and before long the referee was awarding penalties for repeat offenses from the travelling side. Skipper Ley once pointed to the posts and S Pedley added 3 more to the scoreboard. 15-10.
The Hornets were handed a glimpse of hope from the following restart as the regained possession thanks to their second row, who had proved a problem for Cannock all day long. A couple of minutes of possession in Cannock’s half led to a Telford penalty for repeated off-side offences and Telford’s 10 neatly nudged the ball over to immediately cancel out Cannock’s earlier penalty. 15-13.
The remaining 15 minutes of the game were largely dominated by Cannock. Wingers Blake and Jukes ensured Telford’s backs had a hard time defending and an improved support game from the Stanaways, Frost and Barrett helped pile on the pressure. Fresh legs in Lathe and Richards kept Cannock’s scrum record to 100% for the day. Struggling to deal with the pace of the game, Telford continued to find their way into the referee’s bad books and countless high tackles, offsides and infringements at the break down resulted in a yellow card. Captain Ley instructed Pedley to re-establish the 5 point lead. 18-13
The victory was sealed when a sharp defensive Cannock back line forced a spilt ball from Telford, which was hacked down field and Humphries showed impressive pace, strength and football skills to beat 3 Telford defenders to the ball and top off his impressive performance with the game’s final try. S Pedley added the final conversion of the game and Cannock were soon celebrating the Christmas break with a well-deserved win. 25 – 13.
Number 8 Freeman was awarded Man of the Match in a busy club house for his elusive running lines, determined support play and impressive offloading skills. Cannock will now go in to the Christmas break safely establishing themselves mid table after only their second season in Mids 3 WN, the highest league the club has competed in.
Cannock Rugby Club regularly field 3 men’s teams, a ladies team and a number of junior teams, with training on numerous days throughout the week and a recently refurbished clubhouse and changing rooms. For more information, visit www.pitchero.com/clubs/cannock.