Stags defeat Kiwis to maintain third

Stevenage Town 23 London New Zealand 20 Stevenage had a visit from the always daunting prospect of the London All Blacks – and picked up a vital two points. Town looked determined to stamp their authority on the game with some powerful forward play, aided

Stevenage Town 23 London New Zealand 20

Stevenage had a visit from the always daunting prospect of the London All Blacks - and picked up a vital two points.

Town looked determined to stamp their authority on the game with some powerful forward play, aided by some strong breaks in the backs through captain-for-the-day Alex Wilcox, flying full-back Greg Salisbury, and Venezuelan winger Fermin Torres.

It was the Kiwis though who took first blood against the run of play with a penalty.


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Stevenage showed their resolve as they returned to exerting pressure.

Strong running through forwards Gareth Roberts and Richard Penny resulted in good field position for the Stags and three points through the boot of centre Gareth Lewis.

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A series of try line infringements by the All Blacks, constantly stifling the Stags' powerful pack, left the referee little option but to award the penalty try under the posts.

With the two points added by Lewis, Stevenage lapsed into some lazy rugby.

Unforced handling errors in the Stags' backline allowed the All Blacks good territorial advantage.

This was quickly converted into points when their big centre burst through some loose tackles and fed the supporting full-back to cross close to the posts, making the two points a formality.

Good pressure by the Kiwis and a whistle-happy ref led to a controversial decision.

Town had a man sin binned and a penalty try was awarded when a try was far from guaranteed.

The visitors compounded Stevenage's woes when they added a further three points to give them a 10-point lead at the break.

With coach Terry Penny's words ringing in their ears and now back to full strength, Stevenage were rejuvenated in the second half.

Strong tackling by youngsters Tom Mellor and Rob Carter turned defence to attack, and the supporting runners of Wilson and Salisbury made good yards into the Kiwi half.

It was over to Town's powerful pack through rumbling runs from Barry Cook and powerful support by young hooker Robin French to continue with the pressure.

Constant phases of rugby led to the inevitable breach of the defence allowing Iain Penny to cross the try line from the back of a maul. The conversion was missed.

Continued pressure from the forwards and some clever play by debutant fly-half Kyle Lemon led to a penalty and an extra three points from the boot of Lewis.

With just two points separating the teams, Stevenage doubled their efforts and were rewarded with just five minutes to go.

The ball found the league's top try scorer Gareth Roberts out wide and with only one man to beat, he powered through the remaining tackler to put Stevenage ahead.

Lewis failed to add the extra two points and the Kiwis staged a grandstand finish.

A gruelling seven minutes of unbroken extra time were played as the All Blacks threw everything at the Town defence.

Superb tackling from young guns Mellor and Carter typified the Stevenage defence.

Coach Penny was delighted with the performance from his youngsters, especially outside half Lemon who marked his first game in senior rugby with an impressive display.

Stevenage enjoy a week's break from league action before travelling to difficult London side Haringey in the hope of closing the gap on the two teams at the top.

P Datchworth won by a single try at Enfield Ignatians in the same division.

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