Stags suffer defeat in Essex

Westcliff 19 Stevenage Town 17 Stags had the journey home from Southend to reflect on how they allowed another game to slip from their grasp. They led with only minutes left to play after a second half, which inexplicably lasted 53 minutes, in which the l

Westcliff 19 Stevenage Town 17

Stags had the journey home from Southend to reflect on how they allowed another game to slip from their grasp.

They led with only minutes left to play after a second half, which inexplicably lasted 53 minutes, in which the lead swung first one way and then the other as both teams provided an exciting spectacle.

Stags had a strong wind in their favour in the first half and were unable to take maximum advantage of it as they repeatedly failed to find touch with their clearance kicks, putting themselves under needless pressure.

The Westcliff pack proved effective at defending close to the rucks, managing to turn over ball at frequent intervals.

As the match progressed, Town gradually worked their way into proceedings and they were rewarded with the only score of the half after 21 minutes.

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Town took a lineout from Westcliff and drove to within a couple of metres of the line before the referee decided on an attacking scrum. The scrum was collapsed and Town were awarded a penalty try, which was converted by Kyle Lemon.

Town had the better of the remainder of the half but were unable to add to their score. A kickable penalty was turned down in favour of a scrum, but it was typical of the day for Town that they failed to make use of this.

The closest Town came to adding to their score followed a missed penalty by Westcliff, from which Gareth Roberts, who had an excellent all-round game, counter attacked and put Michael Wilson away, only to be forced into touch short of the home side's try line.

Playing into the wind in the second half, Town started poorly, conceding a number of turnovers and failing to clear their lines. Within six minutes of the restart, Westcliff scored their first try after a good move which was finished off by winger Radley.

In the 59th minute, Westcliff took the lead. A blindside move ended with a kick ahead, which was collected by Radley who only had hooker Tavita Faamausili to beat to score his second try. The try was converted by Smith.

Stevenage fought back and looked impressive when moving the ball quickly through the hands, but too often they were caught out trying complex moves which did not come off in the blustery conditions.

Town came close to levelling the scores when winger Ed Burrell made an excellent charge down the right wing only to find his inside pass to Wilson going to ground with the try line at his mercy.

Stags eventually drew level in the 74th minute when after a period of sustained pressure, the ball was moved wide for Gareth Lewis to score.

In the 78th minute, Stevenage took the lead again. Westcliff missed a kick at goal and Town counter attacked through Lewis and then an excellent break by the impressive Roberts took him close to the home line before he slipped the ball to Ian Crompton to score and open up a five-point lead.

For the second league game running, Stevenage found themselves in front with a few minutes to play and failed to close the game down, allowing Westcliff to take the upper hand and drive deep into their half.

After a series of drives towards the Stevenage line, flanker Hughes broke the defence and scored close to the posts to level the scores again. The conversion by Smith saw Westcliff home to victory by two points.

Town need to regroup before the visit of Woodford this Saturday.

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