Bishop's Stortford 1st XV 19 Old Elthamians 28
By John Allanson
Not the result we had hoped for, with four stalwarts with over 40 years' first team contributions between them playing their last home game, but OEs just a bit too strong.
Stortford started strongly and came close to scoring two or three times within the first 10 minutes, but then the visitors started to take control. Their own lineouts were pretty much impregnable and, as time wore on they took increasing control of the scrums, whether we or they had the put in. On top of that, when Stortford did manage to get the ball, OEs' defence was aggressive and strong, making it hard for the home side to retain possession for any length of time, not helped by a stream of penalties against the home side at breakdowns. It was no surprise, therefore, when the visitors took the lead after 11 minutes, with Stortford's defence stretched first left then right, allowing Tom White to squirm his way over with an overlap outside. The flyhalf converted himself, but then found himself as the final, forlorn defender some 7 minutes later, when Joss Linney was given room to first round a second row in midfield and then go past White, as the final defender with ease. Sam Coleman's conversion attempt, unfortunately flew narrowly wide. The rest of the half was pretty much dominated by the visitors, as their scrum assumed greater control and they were able to add two further tries before the break. The first was a well-worked backs' try, with space being created out wide for gave right wing, Alex Brown to chip ahead and centre, Kieran Moffat winning the race for the touchdown. White converted, as he did again right at the end of the half, after Hamish Barton had touched down at the back of a driving maul, from a 5 metre lineout after a penalty was awarded at a Stortford scrum.
OEs picked up after the break where they had left off and, despite a brief attacking flurry from Stortford, were soon on the attack again. Another penalty was kicked to touch close to the Stortford line and, although this time the home pack managed to prevent a forward drive, the ball was spun left and some loose defence around the fringes of a ruck allowed lively scrumhalf, Rhys Morgan to dart over for his side's bonus point try, which White, once again converted. With a few changes of personnel on both sides, the contest in the final quarter of the game became much more even and after 58 minutes Duff took full advantage of Moffat's absence in the sin bin ( for a dangerous, no-arms tackle) to come inside and loop round his flyhalf to take a short pass and burst through a gaping hole in midfield to sprint to the line from halfway. Sam Coleman converted.