This was an excellent game of rugby played by two committed sides. It was end to end with plenty of scores to keep the large crowd entertained throughout.
There were a number of changes from previous weeks but come kick off Rovers had 17 players. The biggest absentees were that of the regular coaching team of Miffy and Mick with The Pace taking over as Head interim head coach/manager ably assisted by Darren. The Pace was full of smiles at full time and complimented the team "I thought the lads played really well and scored some good tries. There were a lot of positives from the game and it was nice to see some of the moves we have been working on in training put into action on the pitch". The Pace and Smith now step down with their 100% record to allow Miffy and Mick to take back over.
Conditions were "fresh" at the Friarage as Rovers got the game under way attacking the steetley end. The strong wind was against them and the players knew it was going to be tough going for the first 40 mins.
Rovers made a positive start with excellent line out ball to feed the backs Chris made good ground before young Bailey took on the attack but the ball was knocked on. From the resulting scrum Elliot took a strike against the head and livewire Woody picked from 8 and fed powerhouse Sewell who bashed though would be tacklers to score a good solo try. Josh easily converted. 7-0.
Stockton hit back with some good pressure and scored from a lineout. Woody did charge down the conversion. Something not often seen. 7-5
James "Twickenham" Turner entered the arena making his first start for Rovers for a number of years. Jim was part of the minis team that graced the hallowed turf in the early 90s as and 11 year old. He made an immediate impact with a strong carry which brought about a penalty. Up steps Josh who slotted with aplomb. 10 - 5
Rovers defence lapsed for a second or two when the Stockton Centre made a break, a pirouette and found a hole to burst through and score under the posts. The conversion was good. 10-12
Rovers began putting some phases together and there was some lovely interplay with Craig and Dos controlling things at 9 & 10. One of the moves of the match saw the ball pass through a lot of hands with some deft offloading before Dos fed the try scoring pass to the evergreen Arnell. Arnell stormed through and dived under the posts (in his mind) but in reality he knocked it on. This still didn't stop him giving the forwards a scrummaging masterclass from the safe distance of full back.
Woody was taking all his own ball in the line out and from one line outs the ball was moved simply through hands and it was Sewell who once again scored the try. 17 - 12
Think this is now the second half.
Stockton scored after a deft chip through and collection. 17 - 19
Matty Saunders showed the backs how to do things with a pasty burst through the middle. What started out as an optimistic run nearly ended in individual glory with a show and go and slick side step but was tackled just short.
A Stockton knock on resulted in a Rovers scrum. Stockton had the upper hand in the scrums all afternoon and credit to Craig who managed to get the ball away. On this occasion it was Woody that picked despite going backwards and once again fed Sewell for another try.
With Josh striking the ball so well, when a penalty was awarded 30 meters our Captain Dos had no hesitation asking the prop to get the three points. And he did. Easily. 27 - 19
Woody then scored from the back of another scrum. He did one of his horrible slippery, niggly runs and got the try. Josh was knocking the kicks over easily. 34-19.
Josh knocks another pen over 37 - 19.
Complacency sets in and Stockton weren't going to give up. They hit back with a converted try. Rovers were still in control but there was time for Stockton to get back into it. 37 - 26
Rovers final try came from Jamie Turner who found himself in the 9 10 channel.....again. This time from 20 meters out he showed a bit of pace and footwork and the 20 stone beast blasted over for a try. Not the easiest conversion but Josh couldn't miss. He nailed it to keep his 100% record for the game. Not bad for a prop. 44-26
Stockton had the final say with a well worked try of their own but ran out of time to close the gap further. The restart was the final play and when the Stockton player knocked on the ref blew or time.
This was a really god win for Rovers with a number of positives. Josh kicking 8/8 made a big difference. Both teams scored 5 tries so those kicks were massive. Grandy controlled things well from 10 with Chris adding a real threat in the backs assisted by the more cultured Pip. In the forwards Matty S had one of his best games as did Groomy. Woody was his usual self covering every blade of grass and was voted man of the match by the Stockton coach. Young Bailey never took a step back. The line out was outstanding with all our own ball won and a couple pinched. The scrum came under pressure but still we managed to get some decent ball. It was good to see a couple of new faces with Jim playing well and also a massive well done to Billy who played his first ever game of rugby.
Man of the match today goes to Craig. Craig played scrum half and came under a lot of pressure. He showed quality and had a consistently good delivery Well done Craig.
Thanks to Stockton who helped make the game entertaining. It could have gone either way. After a drubbing earlier in the season it was nice to get the win. Also thank you to Cookie for running touch and Lynne and her team or the pie, peas, gravy, and baby sitting.
Next week Bishop Auckland.