Sat 14
1st XV
Bishop's Stortford First XV 27 Cambridge 36

Bishop's Stortford First XV 27 Cambridge 36

By John Allanson
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Stortford well beaten by a powerful Cambridge side, but will be disappointed at the extent to which they contributed to their own downfall.

Despite gifting, former player, James Ayrton an interception try within two minutes of the start, Cambridge had much the better of the first half and, but for a number of handling errors in midfield, would surely have turned round with a comfortable lead. Their pack was clearly on top at the scrums, so repeated knock-ons, as they tried to spread the ball wide at every opportunity, were not always as costly as they might have been. Aided by a faltering Stortford lineout, they managed to sustain long periods of pressure, narrowing the gap by three points through a Rhodri Adamson penalty after 22 minutes, when the home side midfield was caught offside. With Stortford's defence looking uncharacteristically fragile, the visitors eventually strung a series of passes together, leading to a good try out wide to winger, Andrew Henderson after 26 minutes, well converted from the touchline by Adamson. Within 5 minutes their lead had been stretched to 8 points through an unconverted try to Ciaran Moore from a powerful 5 metre scrum. With 2 minutes of the half left, Stortford finally put together a passage of incisive backs play and, with Joss Linney stepping in off the opposite wing to create an overlap, he was able to give Mike Ayrton a sight of the line, allowing the fullback to emulate his brother in touching down against his former Club. The conversion went narrowly wide, but renewed pressure from the home team produced an eminently kickable penalty, as first half time was running out. Spurning the opportunity to level the scores, though, the decision was taken to go for touch - a very bold choice, given Stortford's lineout difficulties and Cambridge were able to snuff out the danger with little difficulty.

The home side restarted in similarly generous mood, conceding after 3 minutes, when George Bretag-Norris charged down a rather ponderous attempted clearance kick from a lineout inside the Stortford 22 and a kind bounce gave the second row an easy touchdown. With Seb Brownhill on at tighthead prop for the second half, Cambridge's scrum dominance of the first period was reversed and the first scrum of the half produced a penalty for Stortford from a powerful shove. Burr went for goal from a far more difficult position than that spurned 7 minutes earlier and duly added 3 points with 46 minutes gone. The visitors swept straight back onto the attack and a second offence at a breakdown in quick succession inside the Stortford 22 produced a yellow card for Dan Elsom to the obvious consternation of the player and his skipper. Cambridge were quick to take advantage of the extra man, with flanker, Alex Rayment crashing over after 52 minutes for a converted try to stretch his side's lead to 14 points. The visitors became increasingly dominant, with Stortford starting to look decidedly ragged, but they managed to hold out for 15 minutes, before Henderson scored his second try, assisted by a badly missed cover tackle. Adamson added a great conversion. Amazingly, the home side now rallied and dominated possession for the remaining 12 minutes, battering away at a solid Cambridge defence through phase after phase. This produced two tries in quick succession, the first to Will Roberts on 75 minutes, crashing over from close range, converted by James Ayrton. Jake Spivey, on a s replacement scrumhalf added an opportunist try 3 minutes later, breaking from the base of a ruck to dash over from some 20 yards out. Ayrton's conversion attempt from close to touch, which would have secured his team a second bonus point, unfortunately fell just short.

Many thanks go to Match Day sponsors, Tees and to Man of the Match sponsor, BIT Solutions, whose nomination from the home ranks went to Rob Duff.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 14, Sep 2019




National League 1

League position

Bishops Stortford