Stags take giant step towards title
Stevenage Town 31 Hampstead 10 Stags now look unstoppable in their pursuit of the London Three North West title. With six matches to go, Town are eight points clear at the top and boast a far healthier points difference than second placed Imperial Medical
Stevenage Town 31 Hampstead 10
Stags now look unstoppable in their pursuit of the London Three North West title.
With six matches to go, Town are eight points clear at the top and boast a far healthier points difference than second placed Imperial Medicals.
Stags maintained their impressive form with yet another win at fortress North Road at the expense of a gutsy Hampstead side on?Saturday.
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From the off, it looked as if the game would be a tight affair with Hampstead looking to use the slope and wind to their advantage by kicking in behind Stevenage at every opportunity.
The back three of Kyle Lemon, Ian Crompton and Michael Wilson always looked comfortable against this tactic and created plenty of problems running the ball out of defence.
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The pack was strong as ever controlling the ball well and making good yards with strong driving mauls and plenty of bullocking charges led by Barry Cook, Tavita Faamausili and captain Neil Bamber.
When the backs got the ball they always looked like making good ground and Crompton was put into space a number of times and made good use of the ball gaining plenty of yards.
It was after one of these runs that Stevenage scored their first try.
After Crompton was stopped by the defence, the ball came back quickly from the ruck and was spun out through the backs. Gareth Roberts made a half break through the line and Phil Pearson was on hand to take the offload and score under the posts. This was converted by Gareth Lewis.
Hampstead came back strongly and it took some fine work in defence to keep them at bay, the back row, fly-half and centres putting in important tackles to force errors.
Stevenage were managing to find territory via the boot of Lemon and line breaks by the backs.
This set up good field position and Town managed to score from a well-worked lineout move which put Roberts in space again, this time not needing any support. This was converted from out wide by Lemon to make the score 14-0 at half time.
Playing downhill in the second half after a rousing team talk from coach Terry Penny, Stevenage came out hungry.
Despite this, a series of penalty decisions that baffled players and fans alike gifted Hampstead three points from a simple penalty in front of the posts.
Town attacked with renewed vigour and put the opposition under intense pressure.
The forwards made the hard yards and set up a ruck near the halfway line. With the defenders sucked in, Lewis spotted space in behind and chipped the ball over for Crompton to run on to. For once the bounce of the ball fell kindly to leave an easy finish which was converted by Lemon.
Stevenage then had a bad couple of minutes when decisions seemed to go against them and switched off to allow Hampstead to score a well-worked converted try through the backs.
After a bad restart which went dead, the Town pack put in yet another superb effort from the resulting scrum and won the ball against the head.
Roberts picked up and gave a perfectly timed pass to Lewis to sprint in from 40m for the try.
After making substitutions, Town went back to work to finish the scoring off.
The pack laid down another platform for the backs to work off.
A pre-planned move in the backs saw Alex Wilcox get the ball and draw his man, while Kris Foskett drew his man away, for Wilcox to pop to Wilson joining the line from the blindside and glide through the hole and sprint in from 40 yards out.
Town will look to carry this form into their next league game away at UCS Old Boys this Saturday.