Club captain Matt Cook, who missed out on the season opener last week having sustained a training ground injury, returned to the lead his side to a comfortable win over Long Buckby.
Stratford started the game very brightly with the sun at their backs, attacking with real pace from the first whistle. The blistering start was made all the sweeter when back row Simon Greenwood touched down within two minutes after a barnstorming thirty yard run leaving defenders in his wake. Nath Geekie hadn’t had time to find his range and was unable to convert from the right flank.
Stratford continued to press forward, enjoying the warm and dry conditions and showing blistering pace across all areas, just ten minutes later Charlie Powell scored on the left touchline after some skilful interplay from both forwards and backs unleashed the winger who finished well in the corner. Geekie’s second conversion attempt sailed through the posts from the widest of angles, giving the home team a 12-0 lead after as many minutes.
The big Long Buckby forwards, who had appeared stunned by Stratford’s pace in the early exchanges, eventually settled into the game and were able to retain multiple attacking phases. A couple of penalties gave the visitors an opportunity inside the Stratford 22 and a powerful run from a Long Bucky second row resulted in a well worked score after a number of phases. The conversion was pushed wide.
Stratford had selected a very experienced bench in the shape of Alex Ballantine, Drew Pritchard and James Hancock, with a combined age of 112 and were able to keep their forward pack fresh making the most of their eight interchanges across the afternoon.
Immediately from the re-start Stratford pressurised the visitors’ line. After multiple phases of quick ball the Long Buckby stand-off was judged to be slowing down Stratford’s ball and was sent to the sin-bin. Stratford hooker Ben Cole skilfully hit replacement back row Alex Ballantine at the tail of the ensuing line out and Stratford rumbled forward. Having secured a hat-trick for Stratford’s 2nd string last week Simon Greenwood was on hand to add to his earlier score by crashing over from short range, Geekie once again successful with the conversion.
As half time approached both sides began to tire in the heat and the game opened up a little. The visitors had the last word of the half as, on the stroke of half time, Long Buckby scored a second unconverted try when their scrum half scampered over making the score at the break 19-10 to Stratford.
The second half was a somewhat scrappy affair with both sides battling hard up front and the majority of the play occurring between the 22s. Stratford struck with the only score of the half in the 55th minute when, like a greyhound in the slips, Sam Kirby anticipated and pounced upon a Gwillym Davies grubber to race in under the posts. Nath Geekie added the extras to bring the score to 26-10.
Ten minutes before time Stratford were reduced to 14 when Drew Pritchard was sin-binned for a team offence however Long Buckby were unable to benefit from the man advantage and the game ended 26-10.
On Saturday 28th September Pearcecroft plays host to no fewer than four home games with Stratford fielding three teams: 1st & 2nd XVs facing Old Laurentians in their respective leagues with Stratford Legends and Shottery also entertaining visitors at the Loxley Road ground. Legends kick off at 1330hrs with all other games kicking off at 1500hrs.