Stour defeated by a strong opposition defence, lack of cohesion and loss of concentration.
By Richard Stanley
Yet again Stour are involved in a game of two halves that saw an early penalty advantage, four Yellow Cards and a 27 man fracas.
Yet again Stour are involved in a game of two halves that saw an early penalty advantage, four Yellow Cards and a 27 man fracas that even involved some intervention from nearby spectators!
At midday, the previous night’s bonfire was still alight and this may have been a sign of things to come. There was a smattering of wadding on the AGP from the rocket shells that lit up the sky 16 hours earlier and a 20 cm sparkler was spotted by an eagle eyed Andy T. Fortunately, he had the good sense to remove it from the field of play!
Stourton Park also welcomed former players Jan Capewell and Bob Partridge who, along with some colleagues, were selling Remembrance Day items on behalf of the Royal British Legion, preceding the one minute silence held before kick off. Jan is currently serving in the Royal Navy and has played with Fylde No 8 David Fairbrother.
Not wishing to make any excuses, the hosts did have some selection issues given injuries to Chad Thorne, Jack Lea and Sam Montieri. Rickie Aley passed a last minute fitness test and Mark George started on the bench having had sickness issues over the previous 3 days.
At this stage the reader may start to think that we are deviating form the subject in hand, namely a “Match Report”. The reader is correct! Trying to find the right words this week is a struggle but…here goes.
Stourbridge kicked off the game with a strong wind advantage and needed a big score if they were going to defend any advantage in the second half. It started well when Fylde conceded a penalty but a gusting wind defeated the long-range effort from Chris Scott. However, he did manage a simpler effort 14 minutes later but not before speedster Reece Beddows was taken off after a knee injury with just 3 minutes on the clock.
Stour could have scored on several occasions but the Fylde defence was possibly the best we have seen all season and their great efforts went rewarded, as the remainder of the first half remained scoreless. This was in spite of Stour winning a number of penalties and excellent lineout work by Nick Murphy and Llyr Griffiths stealing three Fylde throw ins. Perhaps their best chance came from the third of these, taken on the Stour 22 metre line. Sam Wilkes made some good yards and his offload to George Morgan led to a surging Mark Harrison break but he was hauled down inches from the line.
Territory and possession were then reversed following a Fylde free kick that sent them back up the pitch. Play went into touch and Stour’s decision to throw long ball to back of the line was always going to be a risky call. Fortunately Fylde knocked on the lost ball. Stour then conceded a scrum free kick 25 metres out and the ball was sent out right where an unfortunate Dan Rundle was Yellow Carded for a high tackle. It was then the turn of the hosts to show some good defensive skills including an alert Sam Wilkes pouncing on loose ball and Chris Scott ‘ripping’ away the ball and also kicking cleverly into the Fylde 22 m territory.
West Country referee Adam Wookey (not from the Somerset caves and no relation to Chewbacca) blew the half time whistle before Rundle’s return and at a time when Fylde were on the ascendancy at the same rate as the wind speed. Stourbridge were always going to struggle defending a slender three points lead in such conditions but never expected to loose it straight from the restart kick. A knock on down the left wing gave possession to Fylde and Scrum Half Cameron Crampton spotted a massive gap on the blindside. He scooped up the ball from the back of a ruck and scampered a full 20 metres, untouched, to score in the corner.
Stourbridge hit back through a quick tap penalty but play was halted after an accidental offside as Joe Heatley ran into his own player. A further lack in concentration then allowed Tom Carleton to break out and gain some 50 metres but a brilliant cover tackle by Dan Rundle allowed the hosts to regroup just a few yards from their own line. Fylde continued their onslaught and Mark Harrison then saw a “Yellow” followed directly by Fly Half Greg Smith slotting over the resulting penalty kick making the score 3-8.
Fylde then scored a further 21 unanswered points in 14 minutes including tries from Crampton, Smith and Hooker Ben Gregory. Greg Smith converted all three. The first of the tries came from a speculative but wind-assisted kick, which bounced awkwardly for Stour but that fell well for Fylde. 6 minutes later, Fylde’s centre Chris Briers threw an outrageous dummy on the half way line. His break and feed to Smith was enough to catch the defence napping and a further seven points. One minute later Briers was also instrumental in the next score when he broke and passed to Ben Gregory who scored under the posts.
At 3-29 with barely an hour played Stourbridge were now racing against the clock if they were to have any remote chance of getting something out of the game! However, hope was handed out on 63 minutes when Fylde conceded a penalty on the left wing. The man in possession of the ball was a little reluctant to hand it over. Nick Murphy did his best to persuade the chap to return it but Fylde’s finest took umbrage at his efforts and disagreement turned into a scuffle that turned into a fracas followed by a near riot! It is thought that one spectator may have used beer to cool things down but the outcome was that Fylde’s front row Elliot Horner was given a Yellow Card for foul play followed by Fairbrother for a Technical Foul!
Stour took full advantage of the extra manpower as Mark George crashed over two minutes later. This was a direct result of a massive territorial gain by Dan Rundle then Mark Harrison. The euphoria only lasted 5 minutes before the explosive running of Tom Carleton caught Stourbridge off guard, once again. This was at a time when Fylde only had 12 players participating (one injured and two having ten minutes enforced rest!).
A twenty one point lead with just 8 minutes left to play was enough to empty half the stand of it’s spectators who did actually miss two well worked Stourbridge Tries. The first came from an attack down the right and the ball was then sent back left. A sublime cross-field kick by Rickie Aley found the arms of Joe Heatley who dotted down in the corner. A minute later and almost straight from the restart Mark Harrison broke through over the half way line. In support was Road Runner, himself, Dan Rundle and his speed was enough to elude Fylde’s defence but, again, the Try was too far out and the wind too strong to allow for the conversion.
At this stage the Fylde centre Briers realised that they only had 14 players on the pitch, even though the two miscreants had returned from ‘The Bin”! Matters were then resolved but, uncharacteristically the kick off went dead and play was returned to the half way line and a scrum to Stour. However, the touchline defeated the final attack and Adam Wookey blew his whistle for the final time that afternoon.
Stourbridge, perhaps, deserved at least one point from this game but then again defeated themselves through lapses in concentration and some below par performances from individuals. (Not to mention the superb Fylde defence!)
There is no game next weekend, which should give time for injuries and pride to heal, but we have a tough fixture away to Huddersfield who are in 3rd place. They have won seven games with only one loss at home to Sedgley Park 24-29
Match report by Richard Stanley, pics by Ceri Davies