Impressive Stamford a ‘pleasure to watch’

Powerful break from wing forward Dan Griffin. Photo: Pip Warters - www.acelensman.com EMN-150303-154354001
Powerful break from wing forward Dan Griffin. Photo: Pip Warters - www.acelensman.com EMN-150303-154354001
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Stamford Rugby maintained their place at the top of the Midlands Two East North division with a 31-12 victory over Mansfield at Hambleton Road.

The hosts were chomping at the bit after a weekend off to mull over their 18-17 loss to Dronfield in their last league outing and the strongest side Stamford have fielded all season delivered with a bonus point win.

The only negative from the day was a dislocated and broken ankle for Gareth Ramsden.

Head coach Matt Albinson said: “The lads have shown real character today. I have been very critical of the way we played two weeks ago and at times maybe I could have tempered by disapproval but to see the boys come out today and defend the way they did, creating turnover after turnover was heartening.

“We have worked hard on the training park to ensure the boys are fit and ready to go each week and we will not waiver moving forwards.

“It has been a pleasure to watch the boys play. I am gutted to have heard the news that Gareth Ramsden has broken his ankle, as I know how hard he has worked to learn the game and he has been a thorn in the side of every team we have played against this year.

“He will be missed moving forwards but as has been the case throughout pre-season and the early stages of the league season there are plenty of capable boys champing at the bit to play in this side which is great.”

Stamford had a chance to take the lead in the second minute of the match but fly-half Laurant Ross missed with a penalty kick.

Early exchanges between the sides demonstrated the stark contrast between the styles that both sides were going to offer, Mansfield wanted to play direct rugby just outside the breakdown and try to intimidate the smaller, yet more agile Stamford pack. Stamford on the other hand wanted to play 15 man rugby, using clean ruck ball to release backs and forwards alike into space on the outside shoulder.

Ten minutes in and ever present Ramsden carved a fantastic line out wide to take the ball flat from Robbie Smith and burst through the line only to be cover tackled 10 yards short of the line. It was to be his last contribution to the game.

Play went on and the ball was moved quickly through the midfield, leaving Chris Fletcher the opportunity to put James O’Shea in on the left hand corner. The conversion was missed but the purple, black and whites had taken the early lead and momentum.

The following 30 minutes until half-time was all Stamford. Following a strong break in the midfield by Dan Griffin the ball was moved to the left hand side where Fletcher once again used his fancy footwork to pass his man and leave Steve Taylor with a run in.

Stamford were on top and breaking the line through the centres but it took until the 32nd minute to secure the third try when Steve Taylor powered through the gain line, stepped a couple of would be defenders to leave Ralph Offer the perfect opportunity to slice back off his wing and go over to take the score to 15 - 0. Laurent Ross found his range with a beautiful strike from the right hand side, pushing the score on to 17 - 0.

Taylor secured the bonus point early in the second half with a great team try. Ross knocked over the conversion and the score line moved to 24 - 0. Bruce Parker ran in a fifth try for Stamford as Mansfield kicked possession back to Stamford.

The last 20 minutes was less impressive. Stamford lost their discipline and Smith was sent to the sin bin, the host’s second of the match after Ross had been shown yellow earlier in the match. Mansfield kicked to the corner and used their big forwards to drive over the line twice for a pair on consolation scores.

Stamford host Kesteven on Saturday in the quarter-final of the NDL Cup, kick-off 3pm.