Stour come away from Dore Moor, empty handed despite having the majority of possession and territory in a game punctuated by penalties conceded by both teams.
The formbook suggested this would be a tough game and so it proved with the added disadvantages of a stiff breeze and rain which the home team managed better.
The formbook suggested this would be a tough game and so it proved with the added disadvantages of a stiff breeze and rain.
Playing against the wind, in the first half it was Stour who were to have the first chance of points but even the boot of Rickie Aley was not enough and the penalty attempt fell short with just two minutes gone. He made no mistake with his second strike after two bullocking runs apiece by Nigel Mukarati and Jack Lea. Both sides then traded misplaced kicks with a Stour penalty failing to make touch and Tigers wind assisted effort finding touch in goal. However, the 22 metres drop out went badly wrong when a tricky little quick tap was knocked on. This was gathered by Tigers who sent the ball through several pairs of hands, finding inside centre Tom Hart who crashed over close to the posts. Marksman, Mark Ireland, made no mistake with the conversion and it was 7 – 3 with just 14 minutes on the clock.
Three minutes later, Tigers were down to 14 players after second row Lee Orton was Yellow Carded for a high tackle on Sam Montieri. Stour continued to test the host’s defence through a series of close play and direct driving mauls through Nigel Mukarati, Jack Lea and fellow forwards. Joe Heatley added to territorial gains and the forwards were dominating the set pieces through scrum penalties and solid lineouts. However, the team failed to capitalize on territorial and 15 man advantages. Resolute defending, knock on errors or simply running out of grass all contributed to their frustrations and much to the delight of the small yet vocal crowd.
Indeed, the next points went to Tigers with five minutes remaining on the Yellow Card. A deep kick into the home territory led to a well worked try with some rapid running and slick inter passing between their back line. The ball ended up in the hands of danger man Pete Swatkins who evaded some desperate arms and dotted down under the posts. Again an easy kick by Mark Ireland added the extras and it was 14 – 3 with just 23 minutes gone.
Stourbridge continued to dominate the game in terms of territory and possession but despite all their efforts, failed to cross the whitewash and the score remained unchanged by the time referee Daniel Woods blew for half time. By now, the weather had deteriorated and a strong wind added to the hazards presented by torrential rain.
Tigers kicked off the second half and immediately won a penalty but failed to capitalize. The visitors seemed determined to lose out on the penalty count but even the talented Ireland was unable to drill a penalty kick against the strong wind. When Stourbridge did have the ball, the patterns of the first half were repeated and had it not been for the efforts of Jack Lea, and a 68th minute penalty by Rickie Aley, they would have remained empty handed.
The “Bowling Ball” try started after Tiger possession was ripped away by Nigel Mukarati. Shortly after, the ever present but battle weary Sam Montieri had to leave and DoR Neil Mitchell rejigged the front five by moving skipper Llyr Griffiths to wing forward and bringing on Mark George for industrious tighthead Chad Thorne. Stourbridge won another scrum penalty and the ball was sent to the host’s 22 m line. Following a trademark Stour catch and drive, Jack Lea was bundled over the line close to the left corner flag. Aley’s kicked grazed the post but Stourbridge had closed the gap to 6 points and the score was 14 – 8 with 18 minutes gone in the 2nd half.
Straight from the kick off, Sheffield Tigers won a penalty and some back chat from Stour lost them a further 10 metres giving Mark Ireland an easy chance for 3 more penalty points. More importantly, it took their visitors outside of Bonus Point range. This seemed to galvanize Tigers into a more attacking mode and, for several minutes it was their turn to test their opponents defensive abilities.
The momentum was halted when Jack Lea locked onto an attacking Tiger who held on to the ball for far too long. Two minutes later Aley was presented with another chance of a score and he made no mistake in placing the ball through the posts on 68 minutes.
Hopes of a BP were dashed when Tigers Tighthead Ed Simmons crashed over on 70 minutes and Mark Ireland landed his 4th successful kick of the day. The score was now 24 – 11 but the game was not yet a foregone conclusion! Tigers No 6, Frank Wragg saw the second Yellow Card of the afternoon and was to take no further part. Nick Murphy secured the penalty lineout ball but yet again, Stour efforts were denied when the ball was sent out wide and the ball was knocked on.
With a final ‘throw of the dice’ they were given a further penalty/lineout. However they were still unable to secure clean ball, knocked on and it was Tigers turn to win the scrum penalty and thus the game.
Sheffield Tigers will always present problems to visiting teams and played the better rugby in challenging conditions. Notwithstanding two Yellow cards this was a clean but physical game between two strong sides and we look forward to returning the favour when they visit Stourton Park on 22nd December.
Next week we host Tynedale who, having lost both their games, have managed to score 9 tries and 51 points so this should be an absolute fire cracker of a match on our AGP surface and given current forecast of dry conditions.
Pics by Andy Cook and Paul Davidson