Moseley 41 Bishop's Stortford 1st XV 31
By John Allanson
Scrum dominance proves to be the difference in this battle between two relegation-threatened sides which Stortford, otherwise largely dominated.
Stortford came out of the traps quickly and were 7 points up with less than 5 minutes gone, after George Keen touched down close to the posts after, Jack Scantlebury ripped through the home defence, cutting a great angle, after Nick Hankin had run back a loose Moseley kick. Tom Banks converted, but the home side bounced straight back onto the offensive and tested the visitors' defence through phase after phase, with inside centre, Jamie Williams a constant threat. In the end, though, Moseley had to settle for three points, when the referee stopped play to allow George Keen to be treated for an injury, with play under Stortford's posts and then awarded a penalty to the home team at the restart scrum, with 15 minutes gone. Stortford soon registered their second converted try, though, after Hankin, once again threatened from a Moseley kick, backed up this time by James Apperley, making a telling break through the middle. The home side could stem the threat only by conceding a penalty at a breakdown some 10 metres from their line, but the respite was extremely short-lived, as Tom Banks seized on the ball, took a quick tap and forced his way over, giving himself a relatively straightforward conversion. Despite the disruption inevitably caused by a series of enforced substitutions of Stortford threequarters, the visitors' backline continued to threaten and the team again dominated the exchanges. Their third try duly came after 27 minutes, when Seb Brownhill touched down from a tremendous forward drive from an attacking lineout, after a long George Cullen penalty kick to touch. The attempted conversion from the touch line went wide, but this seemed insignificant, as Stortford powered back onto the attack. Unfortunately though, they were unable to capitalise on another lineout within striking range of the Moseley line, with the throw missing its target and to compound this error, the pack was unable to win its own scrum, when the opposition knocked the ball on almost immediately. With barely 5 minutes of the half left, Moseley again showed their attacking skills in surging quickly downfield and this time were able to make the pressure count, with number 8, Chris Brightwell touching down in the corner. A great conversion from the touchline by that man, Williams twisted the knife in the wound and a penalty goal from the same player, as time ran out brought his side's deficit down to a mere 6 points.
Stortford again looked threatening at the start of the second period, but two poor handling errors, when in attacking positions turned the ball over and, with their scrum now in total control, Moseley were able on each occasion to take full advantage by running in tries. Both were well converted again by Williams to take his side into an 8 point lead, with barely 10 minutes of the half gone. With penalties now being conceded by Stortford at virtually every scrum, the home side drove ruthlessly on and further converted tries after 20 and 30 minutes took the game beyond the visitors' reach. Full credit to the Stortford team, though for showing considerable pride and commitment in fighting back against the inexorable tide and forcing the final two scores. The first went to Charlie Kingham, plunging over by the posts, after several phases of expansive rugby, with the side finding renewed energy and purpose in their running lines. The conversion was made and the Moseley defence again had no answer, as the Stortford pack launched a driving maul 5 minutes later from a 5 metre lineout from one of a series of penalties, with time running out. The conversion attempt this time bounced out off an upright and the final whistle blew.