TWELVE TRY CHRISTMAS CRACKER AT STOURTON PARK
By Richard Stanley
As predicted, Stour move up into 9th place following this Christmas cracker of a game that saw Tigers notch up a Bonus Point after just 19 minutes but a U turn that even current day politicians would have been proud of when Stour scored 30 points in the s
First of all, apologies to anyone who may consider this report to be a tad blasphemous but it is written in a Pythonesque style so thank you for the seasonal spirit of goodwill and understanding. The author is only looking for puns and entertainment at a time when we are bombarded by Brexit, distracted by drones and cursed by critics!
The full story of Jesus' birth and the events surrounding it can be found in the Bible in the book of Matthew, Chapters 1 and 2, with a slightly different account in Luke, Chapters 1 and 2. The modern and abbreviated version may be found here!
Our nativity contains only two wise men reincarnated in the form of Rod Petty and Adam Sturdy who pin pointed the errors made in the first half and addressed them, accordingly. We didn’t have any shepherds but did have a player with a traditional love of sheep …Welshman Joe Heatley.
There was no donkey but there was an ass who suggested that the home supporters (if somewhat partisan) should be castigated for their vocal support.
Star of the show, quite rightly was CHRISTopher Scott with Man of the Match control of game in loose play and kicking 9/11 for an 87% hit rate.
Close contenders were HALlelujah Riley for some immense hits and the STABLE influence of No 8 Sam Mount of Olives Montieri (it is described as the place from which Christ ascended to heaven). After his two massive breaks that destroyed all before him!
As predicted, Stour move up into 9th place following this Christmas cracker of a game that saw Tigers notch up a Bonus Point after just 19 minutes but a U turn that even current day politicians would have been proud of when Stour scored 30 points in the second half.
In similar vein to last week, Stour conceded early points with Sheffield scoring with just one minute on the clock. The hosts kicked off and a long return meant that Stourbridge had a lineout inside their own ‘22’. However, Tigers anticipated the throw, stole the ball and moved out right where No 6 Lewis Bloor went through almost untouched. Fortunately, Stour gained possession straight from the kick off after great work by Jack Lea. Nick Cairns fed the ball out to Reece Beddows who, somehow, evaded three tackles missing the touch line by centimetres (as any good winger should do!) and ran some 25 metres to touch down, close enough for Chris Scott to add the extras.
At this point, the home crowd must have thought that all was well with the world. However, tries on 7 minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes saw Tigers leap ahead to a 24-point advantage including a Mark Ireland penalty. Full back and ever dangerous Pete Swatkins was instrumental in the first score after a searing break down the left side, eventually finding centre, Tom Hart giving Ireland an easy two point conversion. The next try came almost immediately after a copybook clearance by Tigers. Stour’s counter attack failed when a loose pass was sent to Tigers and further defensive errors saw James Broadley score what, in the end, was a try that many sides would have conceded. Mark Ireland kicked the extras followed, 4 minutes later, by a penalty when Stourbridge were offside.
Tigers’ bonus point try came after another Stour mistake giving away another penalty and territory/possession. This time it was through openside flanker Kain Rix whose ‘trixy’ running turned the home defence inside out running from the 22 metre lone for his try and another Mark Ireland conversion. Things were not looking good for the home side who were now 24 points adrift with one quarter of the game played.
Enter some strong running by dad to be, Nick Murphy who took the ball and several defenders into the visitors 22 metre territory. This created a penalty opportunity for Stour who really needed a full pointer rather than the safe “3 point penalty” on offer. Tigers did regain the ball but their clearance kick found Joe Heatley who returned with interest, passing the ball to Luke Veebel. His clever offload was enough to find Reece Beddows, in support and the winger’s pace was enough to cross the whitewash for a “Beddows Brace” and a difficult Chris Scott conversion.
Stour were now playing most of the rugby with some excellent work by the forwards including a solid ‘lock down’ by Mark George winning a penalty when Tigers did not release the ball in a tackle. Quick thinking by Adam Shaw caught Tigers napping, not 10 metres and this put Chris Scott in a better position to kick to touch. The next volley of attack came with mixed results as Tigers saw a Yellow Card but whitewash fever allowed the visitors to clear and relieve some pressure. However, Nick Murphy soon got rewarded for his hard work with a well-taken try after Tigers failed to clear their line. Chris Scott hit his third conversion for a respectable but yet to be tested 21-31 score line. The last few minutes of this half saw some good attacking by Tigers but Tigers missed a penalty on 39 minutes and Reece Beddows had now got the measure of his opposite man after the visitors hit back from the restart.
We are informed that coaches Sturdy and Petty made it quite clear what was required in the coming 40 minutes and, in all fairness, Stourbridge had the talent and fire power to perform and deliver! Almost straight from the kick off, Stour were back on the score sheet with a Chris Scott penalty but then had to spend the next 10 minutes in defence after Tigers sent wave after wave of attacks deep into the hosts’ territory. It was looking like the game plan was paying dividends and Hal Riley in particular was enjoying some immense tackles to stop any progress that Tigers were attempting.
Next up came, perhaps, two pivotal phases of play. The first was when Mark Ireland missed his second penalty of the afternoon. The second was after a scorching break by Sam Montieri who gathered the ball from the base of a scrum! His clever chip ahead was only thwarted by a bounce agonisingly higher than out stretched fingertips but this was enough to turn Tigers defence forcing a short-range hurried clearance to touch! The Stourbridge lineout was secured and there followed a trademark catch and drive with…guess who on the end….
You’ve guessed it, Jack Lea! His 11th of the season meant that Stour had pulled level with the help of Chris Scott’s conversion! The scoreboard was now showing 31-31 but it took just 4 minutes for Scott to move it on by a three-point penalty. Tigers kick restarted play but this was cleanly gathered by Nick Cairns who looked to be relishing the conditions and atmosphere. His offload to Joe Heatley found the full back at full tilt but some 60 metres from the try line. However, this did not deter him and, seconds later, Stourbridge were celebrating one of the best tries seen at Stourton for many years! This took the hosts two scores clear and clearly shook the Sheffield faithful!
Their restart was called back by Referee Tim Allatt who spotted a Tiger too far (in front of the kicker). The scrum advantage was seized upon by Sam Montieri who picked up from the base and broke away to inside Tigers’ 22, winning a penalty in the process. The inevitable catch and drive gave Nigel Mukarati another Try and Stour a 13-point lead! Sheffield did hit back with a Mark Ireland penalty after an alleged high tackle. However, this appeared to be an attempt to rescue a losing bonus point rather than additional tries although subsequent attacks did suggest that they did have the firepower!
Indeed, Sheffield Tigers spent the next 5 minutes battering away at the Stourbridge line. However, given the miracle of Christmas and a sublime cover tackle from Mark George Tigers came away empty handed after a knock on. The hosts were then able to clear their line but conceded a penalty. Enter Dan Rundle (Run Rudolph, run!) who anticipated Tigers’ next play, intercepted the pass sprinted 70 + metres pursued by half of the Sheffield players followed by the entire Stourbridge bench and management team uttering words of encouragement to echo those heard from the main balcony!
Stourbridge were now out of sight and safe in victory with Tigers needing to score seventeen points in 3 minutes. Inevitably, the home side relaxed a little giving speedster Henri Packard a consolation Try but allowing the 400 strong crowd to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon with relative ease! Perhaps the loudest cheer was reserved for the debut of Sam Wilson, formerly of the Stourbridge Lions, when he made his debut after some 78 minutes of play! Thanks also to Gareth Bladen, on loan from Bridgnorth who put in a similar shift!
Make no mistake, Sheffield are a very strong side whose mid table position does not reflect the strength and quality of their team and we wish them all the best for the remainder of the season. We also thank their players who entertained the clubhouse with their Nativity costumes and antics including some suspicious use of straw!
This concludes our campaign for 2018 and the next fixture is away to 13th placed Tynedale on 5th January. Our next home game is on 12th January when we entertain Peterborough Lions who are struggling in this, their first season at level 4!
We hope you have a happy and safe Christmas and wish all our readers, supporters, club members and players a healthy and happy New Year!