Stags 24 Billingham 11

By Stag Cam - November 10 2010
Stags 24 Billingham 11
Waites In the latest round of Candy League fixtures The Stags entertained Billingham Lions in a rare home fixture. The scene was set. The conditions prevailing were ones (allegedly) enjoyed by both teams; we might even suggest that there was a dash of anticipation in the air.
Alas, however, the slumbering devil that is sloppy and inconsistent play awoke in both teams. The game inexorably descended into an orgy of slovenly movement, passing and questionable discipline on both sides of the divide. This culminated in the predictable flurry of cautions and what felt like the inevitable dismissal. With that said West must take heart that despite playing much below par they still managed a bonus point victory (with the last attack of the game) against a much improved Billingham team which included a couple of West "old boys" in Tom Armstrong & Will Turnbull.

Early exchanges resulted in little in the way of attacking rugby; the first opportunity of the game fell to Billingham through West’s offside at the breakdown (a theme that would plague both sides throughout the game) a successful 40m penalty attempt gave Bill the early advantage on 8 minutes 0-3. In response West attacked with more pace than had previously been seen and Luke Watson took advantage of an overlap to take the ball to within 20m of Billingham’s line, unfortunately Ben Lloyd was unable to finish the move being tackle 5m short of the line after some determined defense from the Bill back three to fell the giant lock. West then enjoyed a phase of sustained pressure, which ultimately led to there first try. On 23 minutes from a scrum 10 metres out Adam Howard fed Davey Tighe down the blind side who swiftly moved the ball to Greg Edwards who ran in wide on the left, Stuart Waites successful adding the conversion 7-3.

The remaining 17 minutes of the first half are rather unforgettable with West showing indiscipline at the breakdown, in attacking positions. The referee then began to get frustrated with both teams, but it was West who suffered his wrath with Ben Lloyd (30minutes) and Gav Robinson (34 minutes) being showed yellow cards for offsite and a dangerous tackle respectively. The final kick of the first half saw Stuart Waites miss a long range penalty.

The first few minutes of the second half saw little action till the return of Gav Robinson to the game. At this point it became apparent that West Player/Coach Antony Cameron (an accountant) cannot add up, making substitution that left West with only 14 men on the park!!! Some pleasant and helpful comments from the sidelines and pitch allowed this to be rectified and West continued the half with a full complement.

Despite seeing there second-row yellow carded it was Billingham who then enjoyed a prolonged period of pressure on the West line but the only managed to walk away with a penalty on 64 minutes making the score 7-6. From the resulting restart Billingham kicked long in attempt to clear there line but an excellent piece of individual play by Stuart Waites saw him run in from an officially recorded 63 metres (including a chip and take) to score in the corner, the West 10 unable to convert his own try 12-6.

The Stags then suffered a blow as Gav Robinson was red carded for dissent. This gave The Lions a boost and they applied a sustained assault on the West line, eventually they broke down the Stags defense allowing there 10 to run in close to the post. The resulting conversion hit the post leaving West with a slender 1 point lead with 14 men on the park and 15 minutes left to play 12-11.

Again when West played the game at pace The Lions struggled to contain the West three-quarters and when Greg Edwards received the ball 40 metres out an excellent touchline run allowed him to advance to within 5 metres of the Bill line. Quick recycling allowed Alex Barker to pick and drive to score what looked like West’s third try. However, he was judged to have been held up by the Billingham defence. From the resulting 5metre scrum West attempted to breach the Bill line but no avail until the ball was transferred to Stuart Waites who used his “power” to crash over from 5 out on 75 minutes, again he missed his own conversion, 17-11.

West now came to life in search of the bonus point try and excellent commitment from Waites and Chris Young to chase down a kick and force the Bill fullback over his own line was rewarded with an scrum 5 metres out. West managed to push Billingham off there own ball and after several attacks Ben Lloyd managed to force his way over, Waites added the conversion from in front of the posts. Final score West Stags 24 Billingham Lions 11.

The Stags now take a two week break from Candy League fixtures with a "friendly" against Rovers and a first round County Cup game against Darlington. This talented group of players must look to maintain there excellent unbeaten run in those games but also deliver more consistent displays for a full 80 minutes of rugby.

Stags:

Watson, Cheslin, Miller (P), Robinson, Edwards, Waites, Tighe, Wood, Dixon, Coates, Miller (C),

Lloyd, Barker, Young, Barker, Howard Subs: Henderson, Butcher, Cameron