Title within touching distance
Stevenage Town 49 London New Zealand 13 The London Three North West title is within touching distance for Stevenage Town. Stags took themselves to within one point of the league crown with another demolition job, this time of third placed London New Zeala
Stevenage Town 49 London New Zealand 13
The London Three North West title is within touching distance for Stevenage Town.
Stags took themselves to within one point of the league crown with another demolition job, this time of third placed London New Zealand.
And they can wrap up the title this Saturday when they visit second placed Imperial Medicals, in what should be a close encounter as the hosts are challenging for a play-off place.
Town added nine tries to their tally this season against the exiled Kiwis and played the difficult conditions much better than their visitors.
They played uphill in the first half and with a fierce wind in their favour.
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The signs were not good when the exiles took the lead after only six minutes from their first foray into the home half. A good break ended with the visiting number eight scoring in the corner.
Town replied only four minutes later when from a penalty, Michael Wilson put Gareth Lewis in for a fine try, which Lewis duly converted.
Three further tries were scored before half time as first scrum-half Gareth Wall sold a first-class dummy to score, followed by a pushover try at the third time of asking by number eight Gareth Roberts, and finished off with a try from hooker Tavita Faamausili following a lineout. Lewis added the conversion.
They did not have it all their own way in the half and the exiles responded with a penalty and a second try of their own just before half time, when their excellent number eight broke through and put the centre in for a try.
At the interval, Town led 24-13 but ran in 25 unanswered points in the second 40 minutes.
Stevenage played into the strong wind and managed a further five tries without any response from the visitors, who were denied any sustained possession as Stags played a controlled game of retaining the ball combined with devastating finishing.
The front row of Neil Bamber, Faamausili and Barry Cook took control of the set plays and second row Adam Amos and Roberts were particularly prevalent in the loose making several charging runs.
It took Stevenage 15 minutes to open their account in the half, but the scores came at regular intervals after that.
First, Roberts broke wide from a scrum and put in Ian Crompton who had to stretch to reach the line.
This was followed shortly afterwards by a try from fly-half Gary Trewartha who was again provided with the assist from Roberts, after the Town pack had taken a scrum against the head.
The London New Zealand cause was not helped shortly after Trewartha's try when their prop was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate trip.
By now the champions elect were totally in control of the game and continued to pile on the pressure.
It was only a matter of time before Adam Amos drove over after a period of sustained possession.
The penultimate try was possibly the best of the afternoon.
Powerful Roberts, who was a thorn in the New Zealand side all afternoon, broke on the left-hand side and then fed Wilson, who exchanged passes with Amos with little room to spare close to touch. The final pass left Wilson in the clear to score an excellent try.
Roberts completed the scoring and a fine personal performance with his second pushover try of the afternoon, with five minutes remaining on the clock.
This was a controlled performance from Stags in difficult conditions, in which the entire team played their part.