Once again the Eds’ famous Friday Farts worked literally around the clock to beat the floods to ensure play went ahead on a day when many fixtures were postponed. Both clubs showed their appreciation for this, producing a match that was well contested for an hour. However, the build-up of Stratford pressure forced Eds’ errors resulting in two yellow cards that reduced the Eds to 13 players at a critical point in the match. Key to the Stratford win was a sponge-like defence – soaking up much of the Eds’ pressure - and their fine pack. Missing from the Eds’ game was their tactical kicking game and trade-mark catch-and-drives from the line-out. The out-of-hand kicking of the Stratford No10, Nathan Geekie, enabled the visitors to play in the right parts of the pitch, whilst his accurate place-kicking piled on the points difference in a match won by three tries to the Eds’ two.
The Eds were first on the scoreboard putting pressure near to the Stratford line and No1 Gareth Cartwright helping drive Flanker John Graham over for the try: 5-0. Minutes later, Stratford’s Left-Wing came close to touching down his own kick but not before the ball crossed the dead-ball line. Halfway through the first period Stratford’s No10 stroked a penalty over: 5-3. Despite much hard work in offence, both sides’ defences were on top and penalties were exchanged: 8-6. The Eds had a good period of possession, but it was becoming clear that tries were going to be hard to come by and, again Eds took the offer of a penalty, only for Stratford to do likewise: 11-9 at half-time.
Stratford started the second half in a determined mood and forced their way deep into Eds’ territory where an Eds’ infringement resulted in a converted penalty: 11-12 to Stratford and the match seemed to be swinging one way than the other. Again, Stratford made an incursion into the Eds’ half and a maul close to the home try-line resulted in a try for the influential Stratford No4: 11-19.
Stratford were soon back in the Eds’ 22 where a pass to the Right-Wing was batted forwards and down by the Eds’ No2 Tom Leeson who received a yellow Christmas card for his pains. Stratford were going through the gears and, a few minutes later, the Eds No9 Marcus Holt was adjudged to have killed the ball near to the Eds’ line – the Eds were now down to 13 men. A pass from the Eds’ stand-in No9 was dropped and hacked forward by Stratford’s No4 who then showed an impressive turn of pace to race 50m to touch-down: 11-24.
The Eds’ were battling but unable to find a decisive break as Stratford’s defence held firm and turn defence into attack with their Centre taking a perfect line through the Eds defence to score:11-31. Back to 15 men, Eds had the final say when Prop Andy Wilson barrelled over: 16-31.
A well-deserved win for Stratford who take over the top spot in the division.
Final score: 16-31
Old Eds’ Scorers:
Tries: J Graham, A Wilson
Penalties: L Wrigley (2)
Old Eds First Team: G Cartwright, T Leeson, D McAdam, R Singh, N Sephton, J Graham, P King, J Roberts, M Holt, R Southall, L Roberts, J Darlaston, C Jones, L Wrigley, J Holder
Subs: W Allard, J Grubb, B Jones
Next Match: Pinley (Home) Saturday 04/01/20 2:15pm KO