Sale, who were missing 10 first choice players and had only one fit back on the bench in the guise of second team player Callum Owen, looked like they might be in for a long afternoon. However, the new boys and the boys who stepped up from the 2’s took control and apart from two penalties Stourbridge really didn’t get a look in until the 79th minute of the game.
Chris Mayor who’s clearly benefited from resting his body for most of last season, sliced through to score followed by a simple conversion by Man of the Match Chris Johnson put us at 7-5, although Stourbridge were getting penalties pretty regularly for offside and ruck infringements, the traffic was pretty much a rearguard action from them. Tom Ailes picked up at the ruck in front of the posts and jogged through unopposed for Johnson to add the conversion from directly in front. 14-8 to Sale and the boys were in full flow,
Then it was the skipper’s turn to head over the line and we’d gone from 5-0 down to 21-11 and then an added penalty to head in at the break 24-11 up against a team with the second best defensive record in the league (after Sale’s).
When Stourbridge came back on, they tried to up the pace only for Anthony “Bingo” Bingham to have the ball pop into his hands to literally step over the line and score for the simplest of tries. Add a penalty on the hour mark and Stourbridge were into their heaviest number of points conceded this season at 32-11.
The next try must be close to being the try of the season. Anthony Bingham received a cross field kick from the Stourbridge 10 and then stepping through a few tackles took off down the wing, leaving players in his wake to be caught just short of the line and not for the first time this season used his strength to make another few yards before hitting the deck and dotting the ball down. A superb solo effort on a pitch designed for him to show off his pace and balance.
Having set the standards for scintillating play, we then stepped into the realm of the surreal for an even shorter debut than the one by Matt Sturgess at the start of the season (who was injured before he’d been announced as a substitute). Harvey Derby, who was fit again after a pre-season injury took to the field in play in place of Tom Ailes with 10 minutes left on the clock. As Stourbridge were attacking from their line, he committed a high tackle (a seat belt tackle) which wasn’t really protested by Stourbridge, but after the next stop in play clearly annoyed the referee who sent him to the bin at 73 minutes. Hopefully his three minutes of play is added to in the next game against Wharfedale.
The final action of the game saw Stourbridge get a try through their powerful flanker who went over from five metres to give the local fans something to cheer about.
Stourbridge as a club have so many things going for them, excellent facilities, superb support, a beautiful setting and a dedicated group of players. It was also good to see their under 10’s acting as mascots and ball boys for the game itself. Something that we do as well and should as far as possible be recreated throughout this level of rugby as it increases the family atmosphere.