2nd best to Shrewsbury but not by much
By Mark Bent
Strong 2nd half against a good Shrewsbury side
Shrewsbury visited Stafford u14's on Sunday and arrived with an impressive 27 or more players. Based on the only previous encounter with Shrewsbury, on the last game of last season, the Stafford lads were expecting a tough game and so it proved.
For the third week running Stafford got off to a slow start and conceded an early try under the posts from some direct Shrewsbury running and some poor tackling. Stafford were under a lot of pressure for the first 15 minutes and conceded a second try when a miss-kicked clearance from a 5 meter scrum was fielded by the Shrewsbury winger who was able to score in the corner. Stafford then started to get a foot hold in the game with some territory of their own but were unable to cross the Shrewsbury line due to some determined, close to the line, defense. With the first half coming to an end Shrewsbury scored a third try from some loose Stafford play in midfield. This left the half time score at 0-19 to Shrewsbury.
The 2nd half was a different story to the first. Stafford were a lot stronger in the tackle area and started to dominate the rucks. Shrewsbury were awarded a penalty try for a high tackle which prevented a score in the corner. The Stafford boys were determined to get back into the game and put lots of pressure on the Shrewsbury line, with the pitch markings adding confusion, Stafford were denied a close range score when the forwards touching the ball down on the football pitch side line rather than the rugby pitch try line. An unfortunate and ugly clash of heads between Max Jones and the Shrewsbury full back brought the 2nd half to a temporary stop as both players were treated on the pitch for 5 minutes of more. Max is OK after a precautionary checkup at hospital. When the game resumed Stafford were well on-top and when the ball was spun wide from a ruck in midfield Jobey Mitchell was able to flash down the wing and score in the right corner. A superb conversion was then added by Billy Jones from close to the touchline. Stafford nor Shrewsbury were able to add to the score for the remainder of the game and the final score was 7-26 to Shrewsbury, Stafford drawing the 2nd half 7-7.
Stafford played a good game against a very good Shrewsbury side and the improvement from last years fixture was commented on by the Shrewsbury coaching staff. The Stafford boys are improving as a team week after week and if they can just get started in games a little quicker it would make watching from a parents perspective a lot easier and a little less fraught. Well played lads, good effort just a shame about the final score. Keep playing for each other and with a smile on your face and we will have a great end to the season.