Pepperell: Let’s keep Pearcecroft as a fortress

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Stratford's director of rugby Richard Pepperell (left). Photo: Mark Williamson R90/9/19/0962

RUGBY UNION

DIRECTOR of rugby Richard Pepperell says the aim for Stratford’s home clash against struggling Earlsdon is simple: “Let’s keep Pearcecroft as a fortress.”

The Black and Whites have not lost on home soil all season and Pepperell is expecting that to still be the case come full-time when second-bottom Earlsdon come to town on Saturday (2.15pm kick-off).

And although Earlsdon have won just two of their 11 games, the Stratford boss is taking nothing for granted.

“We just have to keep the ball rolling, I don’t know what more to say,” he told the Herald.

“We have got a large group of players to choose from on Saturday and everyone who played at Old Laurentians is available this weekend.

“Our back row in particular is a topic of hot contention. We have some good options in there and there might be some very good players – who have double-figure appearances this season – that may miss out.

“It’s just important we keep the ball rolling by staying on the front foot and making Pearcecroft a fortress.

“For the past couple of seasons Pearcecroft hadn’t been a fortress, so we wanted to bring that back into our game and so far we have yet to lose at home this season which is pleasing.”

The Black and Whites head into the Earlsdon clash on the back of Saturday’s resounding 50-3 win over Old Laurentians.

The success over OLs made it 11 wins on the bounce for Stratford, who remain eight points clear at the top, although second-placed Nuneaton Old Edwardians do have a game in hand.

Despite not witnessing the success at OLs, Pepperell heard good things about how his side performed.

“From what I was told, the lads did really well and were on the front foot from the get-go,” he said.

“We showed a little bit of rust at times by losing our structure, but we had aggression in defence, punished their mistakes and racked up a big score so overall I was delighted with what was reported back to me.”

Having not played for a couple of weeks because of the festive break, Pepperell admitted there were some worries the time off competitive action could affect the players.

“With the fact we ended 2019 with such huge wins against Malvern and Nuneaton, we didn’t want to start the new year slowly and it was great to hear the lads came out firing at Earlsdon,” he added.

Meanwhile, Stratford 2nds entertain Bedworth in the quarter-finals of the Warwickshire Shield on Sunday (2pm kick-off).