PICTURE GALLERY Stratford edge Grove for first win

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Sam Joyce makes a tackle during Stratford RFC’s 29-27 win at home to Grove earlier this season as Dave Pritchard, Craig Voisey and Jonny Duncan look on. Photo: Mark Williamson (R38/9/17/0875)
Stratford RFC 29 Grove 27
South West One East
AFTER the chastening opening-day defeat at Chippenham, the Black and Whites raced out of the blocks against Wantage-based Grove last Saturday.
They quickly established a 12-0 lead with Jack Young’s chip ahead being scooped by the flying Callum Cook for the first try and then Cook sprinting 70 metres after pouncing on a dropped ball for his second try. Jon Duncan converted.
Winger Charlie Powell, seizing his chance to impress in the first XV, then extended the lead to 17-0 before Grove’s forwards surged to the line.
Callum Cook then turned creator for Stratford’s fourth try, combining with Dan Whitby and then finding the pass for brother Jo Cook to race over.
More sharp movement ended with Duncan charging through after spotting a gap in the Grove 22 as the Black and Whites lead 29-10 at half-time.
However, the hosts started the second half down to 14 men with Jack Young having been sinbinned and Grove worked up an increasing head of steam to close the gap to 29-27 with ten minutes to play.
Mark Hibberd, the club’s injured former captain, said: “We had some familiar faces coming back, players with a lot of experience and they added that little bit of extra physicality. We scored some well-worked tries.
“But for the final ten minutes when Grove got back to within two points, it was squeaky bum time. They had chances, and so did we but we got the win.”
Read more of Hibberd’s thoughts on how the club’s season is shaping up in the new division. Download a copy HERE from 10am on Thursday, 14th September.