Stockport Rediscover Stellar Form
By Ian Kelsall
Stockport Rediscover Stellar Form as they Eclipse Birkenhead Park at Headlands Road.
Match Report by Clive Oldham
Stockport 1st XV managed to provide some starry rugby as they beat their visitors from the Wirral, 34 points to 24. Claiming the try bonus point into the bargain, went a long way to stabilising their mid table position.
Both teams started a little cagily with all the play between the 22’s. After 8 minutes Birkenhead were awarded a penalty just outside the home 22, Stockport having been caught ‘holding on’. This was scored, despite the kicker slipping, 0-3.
This seemed to galvanise Stockport into action. After a superb break by Man of the Match Sackville-West, the ball was mauled on the visitor’s try line with Brotherton touching down. A superb conversion by Eaton followed, against a tricky gusting breeze, 7-3.
From the restart a late tackle by Birkenhead gave Stockport a penalty which unfortunately struck a post. More home pressure followed with the Stockport left wing just tackled into touch at the corner. The Stockport pack were now going through the phases and from a successful ruck on the Birkenhead 22, scrum half Austin made a superb blindside run to score in the right hand corner. Conversion missed, 12-3.
Straight from the restart Stockport were penalised for holding on again. The visitors kicked towards the corner and after mauling the ball 15m off the ensuing line out, got the converted try, 12-10.
Straight after just before half time, a Stockport penalty kick failed to reach touch. However, things went the home team’s way as they won the ball back in Birkenhead’s 22. After a sequence of five forward drives, the ball was moved quickly down the three quarter line to find Brotherton in the right wing position, who duly claimed his second try. No conversion, making it 17-10 at half time. A great time to score and with the elements in their favour for the second half, surely this had to be the home side’s game?
As the game resumed, play was in the Birkenhead 22. Their player was accidentally offside. From the resultant scrum more home pressure drew another penalty which was converted by Eaton, 20-10.
After the restart Birkenhead pressurised the Stockport line and more efficient mauling resulted in a converted try for the visitors, 20-17. If this was Stockport’s game, Birkenhead were not making it easy.
However, from the restart, Stockport were awarded a penalty when the visitors failed to release in the tackle. A Stockport line out followed, from which the home side set up a good rolling maul. Having made good ground the ball was released to Sackville-West who scored a lovely try, cleverly turning his body in the tackle, enabling him to stretch out his arm to make the score. Try converted by Eaton, 27-17. Stockport were now playing very well, enjoying their best period of the game.
More home pressure saw Sackville-West break the Birkenhead defensive line again and a good offload to fullback Mayor, enabled him to cross the line for the try, converted by Eaton, 34-17.
Birkenhead Park finished the match well. They constantly bombarded the home defence for the closing 10 minutes, but Stockport held out very well. Eventually after nearly getting a ‘pushover’ try from a 5m set scrum, the visitors managed a well deserved converted try, 34-24. Straight from the restart Birkenhead made a superb break a long way down the field, but knocked on as they neared the Stockport line. Final whistle blew, full time score, 34-24.
Next week Stockport have another home game at Headlands Road, entertaining Carlisle, the League leaders. 3-00pm K.O.