Stevenage give a good account of themselves but Park still prove too strong

PUBLISHED: 09:43 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:43 19 January 2016

Michael Wilson is caught as he makes a break for it. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Michael Wilson is caught as he makes a break for it. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Archant

It is fair to say that Stevenage’s season will not be defined by clashes against teams at the top of the league table such as Belsize Park.

Far more important are matches against teams around them in the bottom half of the table – such as the trip to basement side Wasps this weekend – yet this encounter played in difficult conditions gave an indication of the progress the team is making.

Town gave a good account of themselves against strong opposition that had scored 64 points against them in October, although they were not helped by injuries to Conor Mitchell, Sean Penny and Gareth Lewis.

A definite plus was their resolute defence and effective tackling epitomised by Wes Moore, Dan Phoenix and Michael Wilson.

Town almost took the lead in the sixth minute from their first attack but Moore was unable to keep hold of the ball just short of the line.

The opening 20 minutes were even with neither side able to take the initiative and it was Stevenage that opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Ian Crompton intercepted a pass from Belsize captain George Hazlett and ran 80 metres to score.

Penny added the conversion to give Town a 7-0 lead but it was not until the 70th minute that they were able to add to this score by which time the visitors had responded with five tries of their own.

Belsize, befitting a side pushing for promotion, were immediately back on the offensive and their pressure told in the 27th minute when they created an overlap wide on the right and winger Ben Parker went over for a well-worked try.

The conversion was missed but Belsize were able to get their noses in front before the half-time whistle came with a second try created from a midfield break and inside pass to the supporting full back Jeremy Burton to score under the posts.

Before that, Michael Wilson’s jinking touchline run from an excellent pass by Penny was thwarted just short of the line. That proved to be the end of Penny’s afternoon as he left the field injured and the visitors went into the interval leading 12-7.

Belsize had much the better of the second half as the Town defence was put to a severe test. Five minutes after the restart scrum half Rich Turner snaked through to score and after a further 15 minutes of determined defence camped inside the Stevenage 22m line, Belsize secured a try bonus point when Stuart Shaw crossed the line to finish a move involving some deft handling skills.

Belsize completed their scoring in the 65th minute having created another overlap wide on their right for No 8 Miran Serdarevic to score.

Town then completed the scoring with Daiyu Ishimori showing superb individual skill to break through a line out, round the covering defence and complete an excellent try.

Stevenage Town: Penny (Banna 33), Lewis (N Bamber 52 (Turner 63)), Crompton, Phoenix, Jones, Wilson, Ishimori, Cook (N Bamber 68), D Bamber, Crucefix, Mitchell (van Zwieten 5), Butcher, Turner (G Lewis 55), Moore, Quarmby.

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