Convincing in the end for seven try Town
By Howard Crompton
This was something of a Jekyll and Hyde performance by Stevenage in which they scored seven really good tries, interspersed by some indifferent, passing, catching and kicking.
Because of this, Tabard kept in touch until Conor Mitchell scored his second try of the afternoon from the last play of the match.
Stevenage welcomed back the returning Jordan Ross, whilst new recruit Dave Armstrong came off the bench in the second half. Both players slotted in well and made good contributions.
It was Tabard that started strongly and they took the lead as early as the 6th minute. A period of sustained pressure was broken when fly half Jack Reilly exploited a gap in the Stevenage defence to open the scoring.
Stevenage responded in great style with two quick tries of their own. First, in the 9th minute Jesse Tipene made an excellent break and linked with Alex Banna before the ball was quickly recycled and Phil Pearson scored under the posts. Gareth Lewis added the conversion. Town’s second try came straight from the kick-off with a surging run by George Turvey before Tipene finished off the move with a twenty-five yard dash to the line.
Tabard were not to be outdone and came back strongly themselves. In the 17th minute, Stevenage were reduced to fourteen for ten minutes when Adam Amos “took one for the team”, being forced to collapse a twenty yard rolling maul, following a line out. The visitors took advantage of the extra man and Stevenage’s inability to land three clearance kicks when Jamie Hancock charged down the third to score under the posts. Reilly added the conversion to bring the scores level.
With Amos restored, Stevenage added two further tries before the interval to secure a first half try bonus point. In the 32nd minute, Mitchell scored his first try of the afternoon, selling two dummies to round off a good Stevenage mood. The try bonus came in the 37th minute. This time Lewis broke through the defence and Ian Crompton still had plenty to do to evade the covering defence before completing the try. Lewis added the conversion and Town went into half time with a lead of 24 – 12.
Tabard’s job was made harder from the kick-off with an unforced handling error, which handed possession to Stevenage. A series of drives ended with Banna making the decisive break to score his fifteenth try of the season. Lewis added his third conversion of the afternoon.
Banna made it sixteen for the season just over half way through the second half to stretch the Town lead even further. Chris McGrath linked well with Banna and he found the gap to increase the lead to 36 – 12 and seemingly put the match beyond Tabard.
The visitors had other ideas and came back with two further tries to secure a well deserved try bonus point. In the 69th minute, George Gough scored wide on the right after a series of attacking moves and six minutes later, after a succession of penalties conceded by Town, Reilly took one quickly and dived in under the posts. Reilly converted his own try and Tabard had reduced the arrears to 36 – 24.
Any nerves that Stevenage may have had were eradicated when Mitchell scored his second try from the last play of the match. This was an individual try in which Mitchell burst through forty yards leaving the defence flailing behind him, to score under the posts. Lewis added another conversion to make the final score 43 – 24.
Stevenage travel to Harrow next Saturday for the penultimate match of the league season.
Stevenage Town Team: Michael Wilson, George Turvey, Alex Banna, Gareth Lewis, Jordan Ross (Dave Armstrong 63 mins), Jesse Tipene, Ian Crompton (Chris McGrath 50 mins), Barry Cook (Jack Zbucki 63 mins), Darren Outram, Bradley Cook, Conor Mitchell, Adam Amos, Scott Quarmby, Wes Moore, Phil Pearson
Subs not used: None
Tries: Phil Pearson
Conor Mitchell (2)
Alex Banna (2)
Conversions: Gareth Lewis (4)