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Mellor double helps secure floodlit victory

ON A chilly Friday night, Stratford ventured to Birmingham to face Moseley Oak in a highly anticipated Regional Two West league encounter given added zest following Moseley’s narrow victory when the sides met earlier in the season.

Due to the recent heavy rain, the match was switched to Birmingham University’s artificial pitch which provided ideal conditions for an exciting display of running rugby.

The home side kicked off proceedings with a lion’s share of possession, relentlessly testing the resilience of the steadfast Stratford defence, which proved unyielding, dominating collisions and forcing errors from the attacking side.

This defensive prowess allowed Stratford to gain momentum, leading to a well-executed set play that saw winger Andy Oliver cross the try line wide on the right for an unconverted score to open up a five-point lead.

Oak responded with sustained pressure in the Stratford 22, but the determined defence continued to repel their advances and eventually the hosts opted to take a penalty in front of the posts to get on the scoreboard.

Stratford had failed to convert opportunities into points but as half-time approached, centre Bron Koziel’s jinking run resulted in another unconverted try.

The second half saw a continuation of Stratford’s powerful and incisive play with Lewis Mellor claiming the first of his two tries with a brilliant move down the left flank, showcasing a combination of forward and back play. Dan Whitby added the extras to make the score 17-3.

Mellor soon found himself on the scoresheet again, courtesy of an outstanding run from substitute winger Jacob Kinnaird, as Stratford extended their lead to 19 points before the Birmingham side finished the match strongly.

With 15 minutes to go, sustained pressure and multiple phases resulted in a try out wide, impressively converted from the touchline, and they crossed the whitewash again ten minutes later to close to 22-15 and secure a losing bonus point.

While pleased with picking up a maximum five-point haul on their travels, Stratford know they need to capitalise on their chances going into Saturday’s match with Newent at Pearcecroft. The 2nds travel to Harbury.

League rivals Shipston lost 36-3 at Stow and host Moseley Oak on Saturday.

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