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Stamford College Old Boys Rugby Club are beaten by Castle Donington

Stamford College Old Boys produced a gritty performance in their 29-19 defeat at Castle Donington on Saturday.

The side had made the long trip hopeful of building on their impressive Counties 3 Midlands East (South) victory last weekend but knew it would be a tough battle with a handful of injuries following last week's physical encounter.

The College kicked off with the sun glaring in their face and the match started at a fast pace with impressive running from both sides, but it was the home team who broke the deadlock in the first 10 minutes.

Action from Old Boys' defeat at Castle Donington on Saturday.
Action from Old Boys' defeat at Castle Donington on Saturday.

A missed tackle opened a gap in the Stamford defence and Donington made a break down the wing, grounding the ball to the far left of the posts. The conversion was unsuccessful and left the Old Boys trailing 5-0.

Stamford's response was swift.

Following a series of determined phases from the forwards, fly-half Haydn Johns showcased his skills to score an impressive individual try.

He carved his way through the Donington defence and stretched his legs for a cool 40-metre run in, manoeuvring past the full back. The conversion went wide and the scores were level at 5-5.

With both teams struggling to maintain momentum, particularly due to messy breakdowns causing plenty of turnovers, it was the home side who scored next.

Some strong running from their back row made difficult work for the tired College forwards, as they managed to break through the line to score. Once again the conversion was unsuccessful, but it gave Castle Donington a 10-5 lead.

Action from Stamford College Old Boys defeat against Castle Donington.
Action from Stamford College Old Boys defeat against Castle Donington.

As the Old Boys tightened up their defence to repel Castle Donington's strong forward runners after the restart, their backline quickly recognised open space out wide.

Some good hands found the overlap which saw them score again in the corner, taking the score to 15-5.

It was in the closing seconds of the half when the Old Boys found their next break.

With his unmissable bright boots, Johns once again broke through the defensive line with an impressive run to score under the posts. The kick was good and scores tightened at 15-12 going into half time.

After the break, the game continued to be a messy back-and-forth, with both sides carrying hard through their forwards only to lose it at the breakdown.

Eventually, a slipped tackle meant a Castle Donington forward broke through the line and grounded the ball for their fourth try of the afternoon, which was converted, giving them a 10-point lead at 22-12.

The College knew they had to work hard to gain some control in the game.

The huge defensive effort of league debutant Joe Harrington, who was impressive all afternoon, saw the Old Boys win the ball high up the pitch.

Big running from the likes of Beard, Duncan, and Sherwin meant the College were knocking on the door.

Eventually, scrum-half Flanders saw his opportunity with a small hole in the defence next to the breakdown, bolting through it for a short run to score.

Another impressive kick from Johns took it to a three-point game, but the home team were still on top at 22-19.

Both teams continued to battle hard, knowing the next score could seal the result for either side.

While it felt like the College had momentum, and the belief was strong from the Old Boys, it just wasn't to be.

Castle Donington continued to do just enough in defence to repel the Old Boys. Eventually, fatigue showed, and in the final play of the match the hosts turned the ball over, kicked it deep, and an impressive chase saw them score under the posts - sealing the victory. The conversion was good and the game finished 29-19.

The Old Boys will take pride in their ability to contend in a scrappy match and the resilience shown when trailing on the scoreboard, but ultimately will be disappointed not to have picked up the win and climb the league standings.

It is now the return of a big local rivalry on Saturday as the Old Boys travel to Deepings for their first meeting of the season while the second team host Bourne at Welland Academy.

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