Town's perfect start
NEWLY promoted Stevenage Town had a successful introduction into London League Two with an away win at near neighbours Welwyn, scoring four tries to one in reply. The side had an unfamiliar look to it with 19-year-old back row Ed Burrell making his league
NEWLY promoted Stevenage Town had a successful introduction into London League Two with an away win at near neighbours Welwyn, scoring four tries to one in reply.
The side had an unfamiliar look to it with 19-year-old back row Ed Burrell making his league debut on the wing and prolific try scoring No 8 Gareth Roberts starting in the centre.
Town had an uncomfortable start with their usually reliable pack losing a couple of strikes against the head but it didn't take long for the Stevenage forwards to gain the upper hand.
They took the lead in the 11th minute when having initially failed to give a pass outside, full back Gareth Lewis recycled the ball, kicked ahead, gathered and fed Phil Pearson, who charged through the Welwyn defence before giving a scoring pass to Ian Crompton. Lewis converted.
Failing to make the final scoring pass was to be a recurring theme of the afternoon and at this level Stevenage will have to learn quickly that they must make the most of every opportunity that they create. On this occasion they missed out on a possible three additional tries.
In the 27th minute, Welwyn reduced the arrears from a penalty after Stevenage were penalised for failing to roll away from a ruck and five minutes later the home side took the lead. Tom Meller was sent to the sin bin for preventing Welwyn from taking a quick free kick and from the resultant penalty, the home side drove over to score.
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Stevenage, having turned down an obviously kickable penalty in front of the posts in favour of a quick penalty, did eventually regain the lead in time added on at the end of the first half when Kyle Lemon reacted quickly to a penalty awarded to Town and put hooker Tavita Faamausili in to score in the corner.
At half time, Town had their noses in front at 12 - 8.
After the interval, Stevenage took a grip on the proceedings and scored two further tries to two penalties in response from the home team.
Within five minutes of the restart, Welwyn were down to 14 men when they had a player sent to the sin bin for a second shoulder charge.
Stevenage quickly took advantage of the extra man and Crompton, taking the ball inside his own half, left four defenders floundering before passing inside to Lewis, who backed up to extend the visitor's lead.
Stevenage completed their scoring in the 53rd minute. Roberts, by now restored to his more familiar No 8 position, picked up at a scrum and drove forward before releasing Pearson who completed the back row move by putting in Marc Dyer to score under the posts.
Stevenage have every reason to be pleased with their first outing at this level. They had the better of the forward exchanges and used the expanse of the wide Welwyn pitch to good effect.
The forwards, as a unit, put in the sort of performance that has become expected, with newcomer Tom Meller working hard before being replaced early in the second half.
The backs looked much more in control than in either of their pre-season outings with Lemon and Michael Wilson looking to keep the ball alive.
Stevenage will have many more difficult games this season but this was a good start, with still much to improve on, especially finishing.
Other Results: Welwyn 2nd XV 12 Stevenage Town 2 XV 24, Stevenage Town 3rd XV 48 Uxbridge 2nd XV 10, Stevenage Town 4th XV 19 Saracens Amateurs 2nd XV 29.