Town take a third successive third place
By Howard Crompton
Going into this final match of the league season, Stevenage held third place in the league by one point from fourth placed Old Streetonians, making this a shoot out for third place.
Old Streetonians started much the brighter and took the lead in the first minute with a try from their most influential player, second row Will McKendry. This was converted by fly half Eoin Fitzpatrick, who finished the afternoon with five successful kicks from five.
It didn’t take Town long to respond as Ian Crompton scored his twenty-fifth try of the season in the fifth minute and James Crabb converted to tie the scores.
Much of the remainder of the first half was disrupted for Stevenage as they sustained injuries to both centres, Gareth Lewis and Crompton, both of whom had to leave the field but were able to return after treatment.
Stevenage worked hard and threatened the Old Streetonians line, but resolute defending by the visitors kept Stevenage at bay and enabled Old Streetonians to take their own chances and eventually build up a lead of 7 – 20. Centre, Neil Spalding scored the second try for Streets in the 8th minute, followed by a conversion and two penalties by Fitzpatrick in the 15th and 24th minutes. The second penalty resulted from a tackle offence by Scott Quarmby, which saw him sent to the bin for ten minutes.
Crucially, Stevenage were able to reduce the arrears within moments of Quarmby returning to the field as the Captain scored his side’s second try of the afternoon and a second conversion by Crabb, saw the teams go into the interval with Streets’ lead cut to 14 – 20.
The second half was a completely different story as Town took a grip on the match and scored four more tries with a third penalty from Fitzpatrick, as the only response from Streets.
Stevenage scored two tries in the first three minutes of the half as first Crompton went over for his twenty-sixth try of the season, followed by a score from fellow centre, Lewis to put Town in front for the first time in the match.
Stevenage No 8, Alex Banna went to the bin in the 54th minute for a ruck offence but Streets were only able to add a penalty in his absence and their own No 8, Harry Marson-Strutt quickly followed Banna into the bin.
Chris McGrath, playing his final match before moving away having given over twenty years of loyal service to Stevenage from mini to first team, fittingly scored Town’s fifth try in the 64th minute and with Crabb adding a third conversion, this gave the home side an eight point lead at 31 – 23.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 67th minute when Banna went over for his seventeenth try of season to cap off an excellent second half performance by Town to consolidate that third place finish for the third successive year.
This match signified the final home appearance for both Stevenage stalwart and front row legend, Barry Cook who will retire after the Presidents Tankard Final against Harpenden on 28 April and Jesse Tipene, who has made such an impression in his one year stay at North Road.
Stevenage now have three weeks to prepare for the Tankard Cup Final.
Stevenage Town Team: Michael Wilson, George Turvey, Ian Crompton (Adam Amos 21 mins)(Ian Crompton 33 mins), Gareth Lewis (Vinnie Kevans 14 mins)(Gareth Lewis 20 mins)(Vinnie Kevans 59 mins), Chris McGrath, James Crabb, Jesse Tipene, Barry Cook (Jack Zbucki 57 mins), Darren Outram, Bradley Cook (Barry Cook 75 mins), Scott Quarmby, Phil Pearson (Adam Amos 55 mins), Ben Hodge, Wes Moore, Alex Banna
Subs not used: None
Tries: Ian Crompton (2)
Conversions: James Crabb (3)