Fifteen tries and 102 points should give supporters a taste of quite how exciting this league can be!
Bonus Point within 17 minutes, scoring a point per minute in the first half and losing the second half by 17- 38 was enough to ensure Stour's 5th win of the season.
After earning a Bonus Point within 17 minutes, scoring a point per minute in the first half and losing the second half by 17- 38 this report was bound to contain a plethora of clichés. However, we cannot beat the one used by Steve Mather, writing in The Rugby paper where he states “Stour survive in a 15-try barnburner”. It was that good, we had to look it up!
The name was “in allusion to the story of an old Dutchman who relieved himself of rats by burning his barns which they infested.” In the modern parlance a barnburner is defined as "a very exciting game, event, etc."
Only one more cliché will suffice and that is “this was a game of two halves” played by two highly competitive teams in a contest that involved 15 Tries and the scoreboard ticking over 27 times. No wonder the clock duties were forgotten by a hapless official, too busy pressing buttons on his stopwatch and remote control! The final whistle blew with just 36 minutes showing and this was much to the relief of the home side given a resurgent ‘South’ performance that blitzed Stour’s defence six times in twenty-three minutes.
Stourbridge fielded two former South Leicester boys whilst the visitors returned the favour by starting ex Stour Scrum half Jacob Ham and Jonathan Hughes at Full Back, son of SRFC ex player Dave Hughes. Although this was a generally clean game with no Yellow Cards, play stopped after just 4 minutes when Chad Thorne collected a stray boot during a tackle, leaving him with a golf ball shaped cheek and a nasty gash above his right eye. Later on, injuries to Jack Lea and Hal Riley meant some radical positional restructuring.
Anyway, back to the action and it took just one minute for Joe Heatley to pounce on a ‘South’ error, knocking on almost straight from the kick off. His 20 m dash to the corner was too quick for the hapless defence but also too far out for the conversion. Stourbridge then took control of the game through some great work by Man of the Match Nick Cairns who teamed up well with a rampant Hal Riley ably assisted by Sam Montieri and the rest of the pack. Stour’s second score came after Luke Veebel crashed through (and over) South Leicester’s No 7 Rob Turner, leaving him somewhat dazed and confused whilst quick hands sent the ball out right for speedster Reece Beddows to score and Rickie Aley to convert.
Stour could have scored another, shortly after had it not been for a last move knock on. A second mistake indirectly led to the third try when Rickie Aley failed to make touch from a penalty. ‘South ran the ball back but, keen to make amends, Aley anticipated the next move and took a fine interception, sprinting a full 40 metres he scored and converted with just 13 minutes gone.
The visitors were then penalised for a ‘no arms tackle’ giving Stour a penalty lineout to the left. After a 2nd penalty infringement Stour attacked the line with a number of pick and go moves. Enter one Jack Lea to score his 6th Try of the season. We would like to say this was done in typical “Bowling Ball” style. However, this was not quite true as Jack ran full 7 metres for the longest scoring effort of his career (so we are informed)! The next Try was a peach, just 2 minutes later after a sublime Joe Heatley ‘up an under’. South knocked on but a quick thinking Sam Montieri gathered and his jinking run was enough to baffle the defence. He fed Nick Cairns who, in turn, beat 4 defensive tackles in a strong run to the line with Rickie Aley adding the extras for a 33-0 lead with 20 minutes gone.
The next 10 minutes saw Javiah Pohe cause some issues with his power and sidestepping but the home defence remained resolute including some good work by Nigel Mukarati, clever kicks by Joe Heatley and strong running from Sam Montieri. Stour’s next chance came after South Leicester were penalised and Stour went for a kick to touch and lineout. By this stage, the set pieces were firing on all cylinders and continued throughout the game with 100% takes by Nick Murphy Nick Cairns and Llyr Griffiths. This time, Llyr grasped the ball, popped it down to Sam Wilkes and a cheeky little inside pop found Mark George who scored out right. Rickie Aley made no mistake with the conversion and the lead was extended to 40 points.
The visitors had the last say of the half despite a Sam Wilkes break. South managed to recover and a speculative kick bounced into touch some 22 metres from the Stour Try line. The defenders were penalised for “back chat” and lock forward Tom Cheney pounced on loose lineout ball to score the visitors first try for Ben Palmer to convert. This was the last move of the half and at 40-7 most of the 265 strong crowd thought it was ‘game over’!
Indeed, Stour started with a bang when Dan Rundle raced over after a Nick Cairns break took the ball over half way. Stourbridge scrum ball went to the pacey winger who made no mistake with a score and Aley converted. The next score went to Joe Jones after a South Leicester scrum and missed move through the backs creating a simple gap through the middle. Palmer converted but, straight from the restart, Niall Gibbons broke from the base of a scrum making some 20 metres in spite of a defender hanging off his shirt-tails! A penalty was given to Stour for a man going over the top; Stour went for a lineout and long ball found the grateful hands of Nigel Mukarati. Aley hit his 19th point of the afternoon and the Stourbridge try scoring tally was 50/50 between forwards and backs, at 4 apiece!
At this point of the story the Gremlin of a 31-point nightmare entered the playing arena giving tries to Javiah Pohe, Ben Palmer, Joe Lane Myles Bean and hooker Adam Johnson. This short passage of play gave Palmer 11 points, taking him to 84 points for the season and leaving Stourbridge with 8 minutes where some significant shoring up of centre field space was needed.
Fortunately, the Stourbridge front eight came to the rescue with just 5 minutes remaining. A strong scrummage in front of the posts gave Stour a penalty, Rickie Aley a simple 3 points, taking his personal tally to 22 and 98 for the season and much needed breathing space for the home side.
Next week we travel to 5th placed Chester who lost by a narrow 25-24 margin against Hull Ionians. This should be a cracker of a game and we look forward to seeing a strong following of Stour support making the relatively short 70 miles journey! Hopefully, injuries will heal and the return of Chris Scott, George Morgan and Rob Connolly will ensure a strong squad.
Pics by Ceri Davies