County cup success for Straford’s young rugby stars
Stratford’s u15s celebrated lifting the Warickshire Cup at the weekend, a storming second half display securing a 40-7 victory over Old Laurentians at Barkers Butts RFC.
The Pearcecroft youngsters had a tough passage through to the final after facing Rugby St Andrews, Broadstreet, Shipston, Old Leamingtonians and Barkers Butts along the way.
Their Rugby-based opponents started the better and had Stratford pinned in their own 22 early on before a counter-attack took them upfield. They then camped in the Old Laurents half for several minutes and quick hands in the backline created an inch of space for winger Ned Stevens to power over in the corner for the first try of the match. Will Jones kicked a very tricky conversion to make it 7-0.
Old Laurents took a very deep kick off and a series of penalties inside Stratford’s 22 meant they couldn’t relieve the pressure allowing them to cross the whitewash under the posts, a simple conversion levelling the scores.
Scrum-half Charlie Savill thought he had restored Stratford’s advantage when he crossed the try line from a pick and go at the base of a ruck only for the effort to be disallowed after the referee judged there to be a double movement.
Stratford began to dominate in the forwards, starving Old Laurentians of possession. The lineout was a particularly effective weapon with hooker George Cordner throwing accurately to Stratford jumper Oscar Stowe and this led to an unstoppable driving maul from five metres resulting in Cordner crashing over to give his side a 12-7 interval lead.
Stratford brought on some fresh legs at the start of the second half and they really turned up the power with the scrum winning a series of penalties. Ball carriers Arjun Mann, Charlie Mason, Harry Smith and Benjie Braine continued to crash into the Old Laurentians defence creating space for fly-half Seb Hillard to unleash Stratford’s fast and dynamic backline.
The third try came from another rolling maul from a lineout, Seb Morris going over with Jones adding the extras.
From then on Stratford turned the screw. Braine promptly added a fourth converted try after powering through three tackles and Old Laurents’ hopes were not helped when, after conceding a series of penalties, they had a man sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul. Jones kicked to the corner and another rolling maul from the subsequent lineout led to Morris going over for his second converted try.
With the clock ticking down, Stratford didn’t let off with the pressure and a series of big ball carries from the forwards led to an overlap allowing centre Will Hembry to score, Jones duly slotting over his fifth conversion from six attempts to wrap up a convincing display.