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Stamford College Old Boys return victorious from their trip to Webb Ellis Road





A late drop goal from Haydn Johns secured victory for Stamford College Old Boys at the home of rugby on Saturday.

Johns' successful kick secured a 24-27 win for the Stamford side in their Counties 3 Midlands East (South) clash with Rugby Lions who play at Webb Ellis Road.

The College had travelled to one of the most historic clubs in England expecting a challenging afternoon as Rugby Lions came into this game with growing confidence after a 23-71 victory away at South Leicester last weekend.

However, following the kick-off, Old Boys quickly recognised they had the upper hand at line out time as Josh Moverley cooly flicked the ball to scrum-half Alan Flanders to win back possession.

The following 10-minutes saw Stamford camped in the Lions half, with strong carries from the likes of Shane Pickerill, Thomas Heath, and Sam Duncan, but the home side's defence held strong and the possession was not converted into points.

Instead, it was Rugby Lions who were first on the scoreboard.

A quick turnover at the breakdown saw the Rugby side move the ball quickly across the wide pitch and break down the far wing. A calm offload effectively navigated the Old Boys full-back and the Lions fly-half scored under the posts unopposed, creating a 7-0 lead.

With momentum on their side, Rugby Lions spent the next 15 minutes moving the ball to stretch the College defence, which managed to just cling on.

In the 38th minute, Carl Brierley-Lewis punted an awkward kick deep in the corner, forcing the Rugby Lions winger to gather and quickly clear the ball himself.

However, Old Boys' high work rate saw Liam Greenslade charge down the kick, which was gathered by Moverley, who offloaded back to speedster Greenslade who scored in the corner. Brierley-Lewis converted the difficult kick and the scores were level at 7-7.

In the final play of the half, the Old Boys were awarded a scrum on their own 22 metre line.

Rather than kick the ball dead, fly-half Johns saw an opportunity to dash down the blind side, chip the ball forward, and gather it before being stopped 10 meters short of the try line.

Quick ruck speed from College allowed scrum-half Flanders to quickly move the ball to Jimmy Twose, who crashed through the Lions defence to score. It was converted and the Old Boys went into the break with a 7-14 lead.

Rugby Lions clearly had an inspiring team talk at half-time as they stepped up a level in the second half.

Within minutes, they had moved the ball from touchline to touchline. This stretched the College defence too far and allowed the Lions fly-half to score his second of the afternoon. The try was converted and the scores were level at 14-14.

The Old Boys had a similarly passionate team talk, reacting quickly to the score.

Five minutes later, they were building phases deep in the Rugby Lions half, with quick ruck speed giving little time for Lions to reorganise their defence.

After three quick phases, this created space in the middle of the park for Johns to glide through the Rugby defence and score under the posts. Unfortunately, the wind took the conversion wide, but the Old Boys re-established their lead at 14-19.

The following 10 minutes were a physical battle with both teams demonstrating their attacking prowess but huge tackles stopped both sides converting it into points on the board.

Eventually, Stamford won a line out deep in the Lions half. The perfectly executed set-piece saw the ball moved quickly for Joe Harrington to barrage into the defensive, dragging a handful of Rugby players with him.

This created space for Sam Durman to carry the ball wider, maintaining a strong leg drive to make a further five metres after the initial contact.

Once again, quick ruck speed proved the difference as the Old Boys recognised the disorganised defence had left space back on the touchline.

Fly half Johns curved his run around the Lions defence, before floating a long pass to Callum Fraser who powered through the Lions winger to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but the Old Boys extended their lead to 14-24.

To their credit, Rugby Lions kept battling, using the width of the pitch effectively to work their way forward.

In the next 10 minutes, this resulted in them scoring two further unconverted tries, which eventually levelled the score at 24-24.

Following Lions' last score, there was just 60 seconds on the clock and a draw looked very possible - which might have been a fair result for this excellent contest. However, it was clear that both sides wanted the win.

The Old Boys opted to kick deep, forcing Rugby Lions to play out of their own half. Eventually, Lions kicked into space, hoping to make vital territory.

Despite pressure from Rugby, the Old Boys back three were able to calmly collect the ball and return it with interest.

The College forwards worked through tight phases, edging closer to the Rugby Lions try line while crucially maintaining possession.

That was until Johns saw his opportunity, calling for the ball from a ruck he demonstrated his composure to attempt a drop goal to finish the game. The kick was good and the contested finish 24-27 as the Old Boys took the full five league points.

Their coaching team expressed their delight to be picking up maximum league points and commended both teams for putting on such a spectacle in front of a bumper crowd at Webb Ellis Road.

The College have a well-earned break this weekend before welcoming South Leicester to Welland Academy for the final league match of the season on Saturday, April 6.



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