1st XV
Sat 16 Mar 2024  ·  Counties 1 Midlands West (North)
Stafford RUFC
1st XV
Tries: H Perks (2), A Rock, G Lennon, W Turner, A Bent (2), T KirbyConversions: A Rock (4)


Steven McLuckie17 Mar - 08:40
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Stafford celebrate the penultimate home league game with an eight try bonanza to see off a strong Longton performance.

Stafford hosted the last home game of March against a travelling Longton XV. The two teams last met in November with the County Town team coming home empty handed from Trentham Fields on the wrong end of a 40-0 loss. Since then, the mighty Blackberry Lane side had started to rebuild and drag themselves away from the base of the table building a healthy seven wins against twelve losses. In contrast Longton hadn’t managed to capitalise on their excellent November showing and sat second from bottom with a difficult three wins against seventeen losses.

The sunny Stafford morning had disintegrated into a grey and somewhat drizzly afternoon to welcome the players onto the pitch. Some typical bruising rugby from the visitors opened the match and within the first five minutes, Longton had battered their way to a one try lead. Stafford responded from the restart with some tenacious play which dragged the North Staffordshire side around the field. Slick passing outwitted the opposition and Henry Perks collected the final ball to cruise past the defence for an equalising try, converted by Alex Rock. The Stafford XV were making their presence known and playing all of the rugby deep in opposition territory. Struggling to cope with the assault some clumsy Longton defence was eventually penalised within striking distance of their line. An ever-alert Alex Rock took full advantage with a quick tap and wove through some static bodies for a try. Longton wouldn’t lie down and reverting back to some effective basic rugby snatched back all the momentum. Strong work saw the visiting team earn two well taken tries and reclaim what was becoming a slippery lead. As Stafford tried to cauterise the attacking phases a yellow card added to the pressure, reducing the home team to fourteen for the remainder of the period. This spurred the County Town team back into life and they were suddenly everywhere on the pitch. Longton were having to plug rapidly appearing gaps but were managing to hold out with a scrambling defence. Just as time looked to be up, a sublime step by Gregor Lennon confounded the opposition and he carried two bodies across the line for a final try. Stafford went into half time drawing 17-17 but having to work hard against an ever-dangerous Longton.

With a few minutes of the half elapsed, Stafford were restored to a full XV on the field. The home side had the best of the opening plays and set up camp by the raucous club house. Longton dug in and weathered the storm, eventually reclaiming possession through turn over ball. However, the subsequent clearance kick was badly sliced and the tremendously sticky hands of Henry Perks snatched the ball out of the air and he cruised across the line for his second try of the afternoon, converted by Alex Rock. With all of their younger contingent now on the field the Stafford engine started to roar. The visiting XV couldn’t contain the flowing attacks which were starting to rain down from every part of the field. The swarming defence eventually pushed the referee’s patience too far and they were punished with a yellow card. With Longton in slight disarray, Stafford stepped up the tempo and Will Turner weaved his way through for a try, converted by Alex Rock. Tom Kirby was the next to open up the tiring opposition with a devastating foray down the wing. With the hard yards made, the ball flicked between hands and Archie Bent crossed for a try, converted by Alex Rock. Longton then had their best period of this half and spent some dangerous periods threatening the Stafford line. However, all of the hard work was quickly undone when a loose pass was seized by Jerry Qasenivalu who proceeded to run the ball out of the red zone. The charge was taken up by Will Turner and a supporting Archie Bent provided the wheels to finish off an end to end try. The visitors were still standing proud and continued putting their bodies on the line for the final torturous five minutes. A strong Stafford finish kept the visitors pinned within their own half as the home side clawed their way towards the noisy club house end. As the clock ticked down it looked as if the game had descended into an exhausting stalemate. But the Blackberry Lane XV had time for one final flourish. With the ball whipping around a rowdy park, the opposition line was pulled out of shape. With gaps appearing Tom Kirby burst through to sprint away for the final try of the afternoon. Alex Rock stepped up to take the conversion aiming for the fifty points but as the ball curved in it struck the upright to deny the crowning points.

Next 1st XV Match: Saturday 23rd March 2024, Away vs Edwardians.

Match details

Match date

Sat 16 Mar 2024



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Counties 1 Midlands West (North)

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Team Sponsors

Gold Sponsor - Towergate Insurance
Club Sponsor - W R Davies Motor Group
Club Sponsor - Stafford Superbowl UK
Shirt Sponsor - Gatehouse Theatre
Shirt Sponsor - Lookers BMW & MINI Stafford
Club Sponsor - RMS
Ball Sponsor - Asset Solutions
Shirt Sponsor - Castle Way Dental Care
Shirt Sponsor - OBI Home Improvements
Club Sponsor - Marston's Brewery
Club Sponsor - Mayflower Control
Club Sponsor - Churchill China
Club Sponsor - O2 Touch Rugby
Club Sponsor - Thane Dispersions  Ltd