Stourbridge started strongly and had a 14-point lead after 10 minutes. Tries were scored by Callum Morris and Dan Rundle. Both were converted by Noah Heward. Dale fought their way back into the game and were rewarded when Rob Baldwin crashed over. Jack Blakeney-Edwards added the extras. The visitors competed well but a deep kick pinned them in their own 22 and Stourbridge stole the lineout and prop Mark George rumbled over to score. Heward was again accurate from the tee.
Rob Baldwin’s try
Back came Dale again and soon had an attacking 5 metre lineout. The ball was won and the forwards set up the ruck. A dummy run from Sam Gaudie drew the defence and Dan Stockdale crossed to touch down. Blackeney-Edwards added the two points.
Stourbridge added the bonus point try before half time when some uncharacteristic weak tackling from Dale allowed them to break the line and score. Again, Heward was successful from the tee.
Apart from a missed shot at goal Wharfedale dominated the start of the second half. Yellow Cards were issued to Stourbridge who were reduced to 13 for 8 minutes. Matt Speres scored an unconverted try at the start of this period but Dale failed to capitalise any further on the numerical advantage. A win, or at least a bonus point 4th try, was there to be taken but Stourbridge survived. The Stourbridge players left on the pitch seemed to double their efforts during this period.
In the last 11 minutes it was Stourbridge who scored again running in three tries. Chris Scott took over the kicking duties but could only land one of the conversions. Jo Heatley scored first and then Rundle raced away to complete his hat-trick with two more.
In the end a big defeat and well played Stourbridge who, for long periods, had almost complete control of the set pieces. Dale did manage to steady the scrum but with all of the regular line out specialists missing there were problems retaining the ball.
The day that had started with the team meeting down the Avenue to watch the World Cup Final ended with a wearisome trip back up the M6. A pity; for a long stretch of the second half they were the dominant side but only managed the try from Matt Speres. There were four yellow cards during the match. Rian Hamilton sat out for 10 minutes early in the first half for a dangerous tackle. Stourbridge gave away a succession of penalties in the second half before Jack Lea was side-lined on 52 minutes. The penalty count continued and, three minutes later, he was soon joined by Michael Worthington. Hal Riley was also sin binned on 64 minutes for an illegal tackle.
Great credit to Stour for surviving this period with only 7 points in the deficit column. They finished in some style, running tries in past, or through, a weary Wharfedale defence.
On a sad note Wharfedale lost another second row with Sam Smith Jnr. carried off at the end of the first half and being taken to casualty.
Head coach, Jon Feeley, commented “After a slow start we showed some great composure to get a foothold in the game scoring 3 well-constructed tries. But indiscipline in our kicking game gave Stourbridge easy field position which they converted. As we started to chase the game, we made choices with low chances of success and couldn’t establish any periods of sustained possession, this resulted in us barely seeing the ball for the last 20 which told on the scoreboard. This is an area of our game which has been really strong recently so we will address that this week. But I thought our work at the breakdown was sharp and forward unit worked tirelessly throughout, especially as we as we had to compensate for losing Sam ‘Carrot’ Smith. We’ll now look forward to Hinckley and closing the gap in performance”.
Wharfedale: – Bullough, Hamilton, Blackwell, (McNab 61), Moore, Prell, Blakeney-Edwards, Gaudie, Patchett, (Hirst 30), Stockdale (c), Asejevs, (Beesley 30), S. Smith (Houghton 39), W. Smith, Speres (Brookes 60), Walker, Baldwin