Stags 24 Horden IIs 19

By Old P - April 30 2008
Stags 24 Horden IIs 19 A sizeable crowd was looking forward to this eagerly anticipated encounter hoping for a game of flowing rugby and honest endeavour. Whilst the game was never a flowing spectacle it certainly was one of high drama and, in the end, one of suspense and nail biting tension.
Horden kicked off and immediately put the Stags under severe pressure who promptly conceded one of many penalties on the night, for handling in the ruck (0-3).

The Stags then tried to move the ball out wide and after several stuttering attempts the ball was moved to left wing Col Cheslin as he came into the line who rounded three defenders to score in the right hand corner with 5 minutes on the clock, unconverted (5-3).

Horden were immediately back in the Stags half from the kick off and after the Stags gave away a considerable number of penalties with ten minutes on the clock the Horden kicker put his side (5-6) into the lead.

The Stags forwards than began to exert some dominance over there much more experienced counterparts and after driving Horden back in a couple of scrums and winning some good lineout ball they were able to move to within fifteen metres of the Horden line. Where they set up an excellent rolling maul and drove the Horden pack back over their own line allowing: Flanker Stephen Smart to score near the posts converted by Phil Wallis with 17 minutes on the clock (12-6).

From the kick off the Stags did not collect the ball cleanly and yet again fell foul of a refereeing decision on the 21st minute mark giving Horden’s kicker an easy 3 points (12-9).

Two minutes later after a judicious kick by Phil Wallis, Col Cheslin was on hand to scoop up a loose ball to score in the corner, unconverted (17-9).
From the kick off the Stags failed to clear their lines and concede a number of penalties one of which was kicked by Horden with 28th minutes on the clock (17-12).

The rest of the half was played out between the twenty two metre lines with neither side being able to get the upper hand.

The second half was a game of much endeavour but which never side really achieved any continuity in their play. However after a very good; line raking kick right up to the Horden 5 metre line. Horden threw in the ball but the pressure exerted by Phil Henderson the Stags no 2 jumper on his opposite number meant that the ball bobbled at the feet of their hooker as a result of their jumpers tap down and Paul Williamson was quick to pounce on the loose ball and dive over the line, converted by Wallis (24-12) with 62 minutes on the clock.

With this lead most of the West supporters present expected the Stags to continue to keep the score board ticking over. The players themselves must have thought that this was no problem when on the 70th minute mark they were awarded a penalty under the posts however the opted for a scrum and lost the ball in a turnover at the back of the scrum.

Horden had other ideas and they began to pile on the pressure aided by some silly mistakes by the Stags in conceding a large number of penalties. Horden though were made to work hard to breach the hard working Stags defence, which has been one of the major parts of their game all season.

It took an excellent piece of precision cross field kicking and some very good running from the Horden left winger who caught the ball on the run and dived over for a try on the fifteen metre line converted (24 – 19) with 73 minutes on the clock with what proved to be the last score of the game.

Although not the last incident as both side kept trying to win the game and as the tension mounted two players became involved in a scuffle for which the referee yellow carded them meaning that both side finished the game with fourteen men.

As rugby games go it was not a flowing spectacle that some people might have expected given the scores in the Stags last couple of games. But it was an enthralling game of rugby which was enjoyed by all who came out to watch the match. It was I must agree with one of the Horden rugby clubs stalwarts one of the best finals of recent years.

Stags: Darren Thomas, Scott Butcher (Craig Swales 70), Gavin Robinson, Greg Edwards, Colin Cheslin (Andrew Hare 68), Phil Wallis, Paul Williamson (Capt.), John Greenwell, Johnny Norris, Adam Coates (Ross Wood 70), Phil Henderson, Andy Robson (Ben Lloyd 60), Carl Miller, Stephen Smart, Dave Garside. Reps: not used Tom Armstrong, Chris Young