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Ladies vs Kilburn Cosmos

This Sunday saw the visit of Kilburn to London Road a team who have experienced a lot of bad luck over recent seasons with injuries leaving them with a bare squad

However what you cannot take away from them is the spirit and determination they have to continue to play Rugby at all costs.

They arrived with 11 and after discussions surrounding potentially lending them players as we had a squad of 20 … Kilburn wanted to play with just their team as they are training to

Play 10s ….

For us it is a bit foreign and these smaller sided games we don’t like as we just aren’t very good at it …. However having been prepared for the potential we had trained on Thursday for this specific occurrence

so hopefully it will bear some fruit.

The other issue with a big squad is ensuring everybody gets game time especially in a small sided game .. and if we were making constant changes that effects the flow of our game … albeit a better problem to have .

We decided as the scrums were uncontested to pair up second rows for 10 min spells .. Freya and Danni , Hannah and Fran , Faye and P and Leeanne rotating with Fran and Hannah …. With Abbi driving from Bristol and hadn’t arrived Hazel started in the front row with Cath and Shania…

With Katie , Tracey , Fresh , Sophie and Ellen .. making up the starting 10 .. let’s see what happens. …

As a coach one of the best things that can happen is that your side listen to your instructions and implement the plan you think will work … We have been fortunate enough to have Ellen and Sophie in the squad and they are quick and with the width that would be available we must look to use them …. The early skirmishes were Kilburn pushing us back .. but suddenly Freya and Danni ,Cath Hazel and Shania started to counter ruck and turned over possession the ball as requested was moved fast and out to Sophie .. who fixed the last defender and released Ellen to run into the corner … 5-0 and a great start exactly how we wanted it … there was quite a strong wind behind us and we had also talked about popping the ball over for chasers as there would be no full back and tons of space … from the re-start we had a scrum just in our half .. we pop the ball to Tracey who dinks it over the upcoming defence Sophie is on it steadies herself and accelerates away to score under the posts and with Tracey making the conversion it 12-0 in no-time and when Sophie is released again with good hands at 17-0 very quickly allowed us to make a few quick changes with a different second row and Fran going on at prop because Hazel needed a break . We needed also to try the opportunity of mixing things up and Charlie came on and Tracey took a break as she was going to try out scrum half so we have cover should there be any issue with Katie .

As mentioned at the start Kilburn always came hard and were very good at keeping the ball moving ..taking advantage of the slight drop in intensity as the changes settled into the game moved the ball well to create an overlap and their 14 had enough gas to get around the defence and score under the posts and with the conversion made 17-7 … and showed we couldn’t relax as Kilburn were good players …

This woke us up again and for the rest of the half we dominated even making changes with second row constantly changing every 10 mins and all the girls passing the ball and going wide Sophie scored a further 3 tries and Ellen added to her tally and with Hannah converting one and Tracey 2 ..the score was now 43-7 .. However we had to work for everything as Kilburn were slightly quicker to the breakdown. on one occasion turned the ball over and again put a good phase together to score before the half time whistle and at 43-12 .. we turned around …

Abbie had now arrived and we rotated again with Keara going on and Chloe staying on and Annie also that was everybody in the game … Ellen and Sophie were having a rest and so let’s see what might happen … With the girls maintaining the pressure albeit a less experienced back line .. we were good at covering and both Annie and Keara making great tackles to thwart some breaks … the forwards decided to get in on the act a bit now and with Shania making a clean break from a ruck she looked for all the world she was going to score but was caught and Kilburn defended well to keep us out … from a penalty 10 mtrs out Abbie got on the ball and crashed over to score a fine try .

Kilburn came straight back at us and again were very good at keeping the ball alive and again managed to get over the whitewash for what turned out to be their final score ….

Understandably Kilburn were tiring and with Sophie and Ellen retuning on rotation Sophie managed to score 3 more times from distance and with Fran adding her , burst out of the ruck score, maintaining here feat of scoring against Kilburn .. Tracey converting 3 out of 4 the game came to an end at 74-9

For us it turned out to be a comfortable score but to be fair to Kilburn .. it was anything but comfortable if we hadn’t stuck to the game plan it would have become an arm wrestle which we normally do in these situations .. looking at Harlow in particular if we had played like today we would have won that game comfortably instead of the nervy tense finish we actually had …

Everybody played . everybody was really good and we made few mistakes really hence the score line … take some confidence and if we can combine the back play of this week with the forward play against Haringey… we will be a very difficult proposition for any team …

Final note on Kilburn .. you cannot fail to be impressed with the attitude and commitment they show and they clearly enjoy playing Rugby … if you live in North London .. I suggest you give Kilburn a ring a fantastic club that need some Ladies …

For us next up is Hitchin .. always a tough encounter … the training in the last few weeks has been really good and the performances are starting to show it …. Final note of the day .. I believe that Sophie’s tally maybe a club record for the Senior section in one game ….. and right now I think she is the leading try scorer in the club with her 14 at Senior Level …. Considering she has only played 6 games of Rugby ever ..this is truly phenomenal ….. ……. come on the Park …..

Another tough game for the ladies

On yet another perfect day for Rugby the next instalment of our journey was to take place in Haringey as we had yet another away game.

Feeling a little more buoyed from the previous week after finding out that the Lady that caused us all the problems was an ex semi –professional and one time Saracens player ..that really is too good for this level …

We again had a squad of 20 and with a lot of travelling support arrived with perhaps our strongest team this year .. Hitchin game apart, We were still without a couple of regulars due to injury but none-the less a solid squad .

A lot of discussion prior to ko was around trying to be a bit more assertive and to play our game whilst stopping the opposition from playing theirs .. it was always going to be a close / tough encounter as Haringey have had a good start to the season having lost only once and that was to

Hitchin who now sit top of the table … but clearly they would be confident and well structured .

Having chosen to kick up hill and into the sun ,as we felt the slope and the dipping sun would help us in the second half, the game started at a pace .. our intensity was good and we were making the tackles and competing at the rucks … however Haringey were very good at offloading in the tackle .. keeping the ball alive .. with good hands they attacked out wide and despite tackles being made kept the ball moving to score in the corner.. .conversion missed 5 mins in 5-0 down ….

Potentially not deserved but none the less a good score .. important not to drop off we continued with Fran and Fay getting to the breakdowns . the terrible twosome of Amy and Abbie ..giving some good impetus .. Daisy , Hannah and Cath getting around the park well .. if anything when we had possession we were a little flat with our back line allowing Haringey to disrupt our attempts to get it out to Sophie and Ellen … Charlie on the other wing was having a good game holding her position and making her tackles … and when she did bite in it was the right call and she stopped several forays by Haringey …

Getting little change out of our forwards ..the scrum was dominant all day and the line out good as well … we were getting plenty of possession but not quite clicking with the attack … Haringey managed again to keep the ball moving and scored again in the corner to take them out to 10-0 after 20 mins or so ..

With the depth of squad we changed up a bit with Freya replacing Daisy .. Emma for Fay .. P for Shania and Amber for Ellen … this had a good effect as the fresh legs in the forwards gave a real boost , we started to really get the upper hand and with the backs starting to click we were looking dangerous .. however from an error in midfield Haringey managed to pounce and once again had enough to get over in the corner to go 15-0 up …. With 10 minutes left we felt that the score wasn’t reflective of the play and continued to play as we had … we then found ourselves in clear ascendancy as we pushed to try and get a score before half time .. with both Fresh and Sophie making clear line breaks only the excellent Haringey full back kept us out .. and with an attacking lineout on Haringey’s 5 metre line had a real opportunity .. completing the catch and setting for a driving maul sent Haringey backwards at a rate only for the ref to blow and say they weren’t competing therefore the maul was never formed .. whilst they hadn’t competed for the jump I did feel they engaged at the maul .. a fine call that didn’t go our way … and with a final push from the restart Haringey kept us out 15-0 at half-time.

It felt not right I think 10-5 would have been a fairer reflection as the forwards had dominated from 20 mins on and a few 50-50s didn’t go with us …. The second half we talked about patience and continuing how we were because we would have to create chances … Our intensity was excellent Katie and Tracy were linking well and we were pushing Haringey back .. Our intensity was beginning to have an effect as Haringey were not maintaining theirs .we started to turn some ball over and the counter rucking had been excellent all day .. Amy and Freya / Daisy and Fran making excellent breaks pushing us forward .. Haringey were tackling a bit high and the ref was warning them as we started to ramp up the pressure again the full back stopped 2 clean line breaks … and she was to prove a real thorn in our sides … from another penalty in the centre we got some real go forward and Amy decided she was going to score .. with 3 or 4 Haringey players hanging off her she drove to the line and scored under the posts … missing the conversion .. because we rushed it ?? …. We restarted … the game was now very much about us .. on the front foot with everybody contributing from the bench and then returning to keep things fresh .. Haringey managed to get a break from midfield and went up the line managing to keep the ball live … and when they finally got to score in the corner again .. there was a little murmuring as the girl had gone someway into touch and not been flagged … now previously this would have caused a meltdown .. but we refocussed and just played even better …. At 20-5 with 20 mins or so left we had time and the ascendancy … the full back managed to stop another of our clean breaks ..and this was getting on my nerves a bit to be honest … from a penalty Katie moved the ball Tracey to Fresh and we had moved Sophie to inside centre and she had enough room this time to accelerate away and score behind the posts and with Tracey making the conversion 20-12 with a good 10 minutes or so left ..Haringey were losing players to our intensity and they had received a yellow card for repeated high tackling we really did have the bit between our teeth but just could not get past the fullback who had a terrific game … when finally the ref blew for the end … whilst it had been a really good game and fiercely contested by both sides it felt like we could have won the game …

However for us it shows you Ladies you can compete with the top teams in this league .. we need to show more confidence and the effort of yesterday all the time every game and we will be right in there ….

Well done to you all .. can’t really separate anybody as stand out .. Abbie and Amy are a force and when supported by the rest of the forwards it’s an irresistible force… Ellen and Sophie are pocket rockets if we can get the ball to them … Katie had a good game at scrum half and and and … everybody was truly excellent… too difficult to separate out … which is a massive positive … this team if it can play together more than once will go places …..

It didn’t feel like a loss because of the great rugby played .. and to be honest if we played with that heart and determination every time and lost every time it wouldn’t matter …. But let me assure you if we play like that every time we will win more than we lose ……. Final note we had a young referee yesterday who was extremely good ….. think he should get a mention ….

SPRFC U17 versus Watford U17

We welcomed an old adversary in Watford U17s to an unusually sunny November day in Luton for a friendly encounter!!

For the second weekend in a row Stockwood started the stronger of the two sides and having secured a couple of breakdowns on the right the ball was passed through the hands of the backs to allow Connor to run in his first try of the season. A second try followed shortly after as Kieran put a kick over the top of Watford’s defence and although they managed to clear their lines with a box kick of their own they only managed to find Steven who ran the ball back and scythed through their defence. After a couple of phases the ball found its way back to Steven on the right wing for him to score the first of his four tries.

The next try not only caught Watford out but also me on the camera! Watford were caught offside on their 22 meter line and a quick tap and pass by Will from the resulting penalty led to Steven scoring his second try and Kieran making his first conversion with an excellent kick from the wing. Stockwood switched off temporarily and allowed Watford to score their first try of the day.

A breakaway run from Steven on the right led to a ruck won by Stockwood and a feed to Luke meant Stockwood once again were camped in Watford’s half. Another sequence of quick balls across the back line resulted in a strong run from Jordan to get Stockwood’s fourth try. Unfortunately, with some stroppy play and a number of missed tackles, Watford were gifted their second try under the posts, which was duly converted – making the score 22 points to 12.

Stockwood once again came back strongly and having absorbed a period of pressure Watford again conceded a penalty and once again Will caught everyone out with another bit of quick thinking which culminated in Mark running through the oppositions defence to score on the right. Kieran made the second of his four conversions with another strong kick from the righthand side.

Stockwood now found themselves totally in charge and another good passage of play resulted in Olly scoring between the sticks, a try that was converted by Kieran. This was to be the last score of the first half as the match took a slightly dark turn. As Steven ran the ball out of defence two of the Watford players pushed him into a post to which he took offence and as a result we had 29 teenagers all facing up to each other with Riz in the middle to restore some order. From the resulting penalty Stockwood once again put our visitors under pressure and from one of the resulting breakdowns tempers once again flared and it was at this point that Riz quite rightly decided to diffuse the situation and ended the first half early.

Both sets of coaches must have had words with their teams to calm down in the second half, with the score at 36 points to 12 in Stockwood’s favour.

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with Steven scoring his third try. Again, this was a good team try with our forwards securing a well executed line out ball with a good interchange between Kieran and Joe L and strong run and offload from Kieran allowed Steven to score in the corner. To be fair to Watford they once again came back strongly and scored their third try of the day.

Not to be outdone Stockwood’s reply was instant and after some controlled play our very own ‘battering ram’ – Mark collected a ball from Will and again ran through Watford’s defence to score his second try of the day. All of the tries we scored today were really good but the next try was probably my favourite – Stockwood won the put in at a scrum on Watford’s 10 meters line. Will played a quick ball out to Kieran who in turn passed to Steven who took the ball at pace and once again was too strong for the Watford defence and ran in his fourth try of the day and Kieran successfully converted it to pick up his fourth conversion of the day. Olly scored Stockwood’s tenth and final try of the day off the back of another line out won by the forwards and a strong drive leading to Olly putting the ball down. By reckoning that made the final score 58 points to 22 in our favour.

I thought every single player today was immense and we thoroughly deserved our victory. The forwards put Watford under pressure from the start and were quicker to the breakdowns than their counterparts with big hits from Kye, Joe and Dan to name but a few. The backs used the ball intelligently and passed it accurately. Will once again delivered a promise to Rob, executing a box kick in the second half to relieve pressure that Stockwood were under and allowed us to gain valuable distance. If anything it could be said that sometimes we are too nice and this was shown when Kieran flattened one of the Watford forwards and stopped to check his was okay – not something their players did!

2xv draw to Bedford Athletic

After a last minute fixture drop out by Rushden, Park 2XV were given a tough replacement fixture against Beds Ath 2XV. Park 2XV struggling with a make shift front row with Aaron Beattie returning from a long lay off and Tadgh O Conchobhair stepping in to play as props with game day captain Iain McGregor.

Park showed resolute defence and quick line breaks through guidance of Frank Daly at fly half. Park continued to dominate in the pack with stand in flanker Matt Jones who continued to also gain territory with boot to camp Ath in their own half. However with the solid defence from Park, Beds Ath made a quick break from the back of their scrum and scored in the corner which was also converted just before the stroke of half time.

Park continued their game plan in the second half with dominant scrums and fast line breaks which resulted in a quick move through the hands of the back line to Tom Anderson on the wing with a try under the posts and converted by Matt Jones.

Park continued to press for the winning try but, were unsuccessful. A really solid performance from a really strong resolute Park which had their back up against the wall even before the game.

Result Stockwood Park 2XV 7 Bedford Athletic 2XV 7.

St Neots 1XV v Stockwood Park 1XV

On a bright and crisp afternoon for rugby, Stockwood Park raced into a 12-0 lead in the first quarter at St Neots following a brilliant try in the first few minutes from league debutant, right wing Dan Corsey and an equally impressive team try scored by No 8 Ben Griffin in support of a good run from left wing Keiron Ryan. Brandon Lewsey added the extras.   However, Park then succumbed to a constant barrage of strong running and support play from the home side whose overall performance belied their league position.

Although Park still lead by a slender 12-10 at halftime and continued to attack in the second half, St Neots defended powerfully and unfortunately Park’s defence proved more fragile as the home team mounted some strong attacks which produced them four further tries in the second half as they ran out comfortable winners.

Park now have two weeks to prepare for their next league fixture which is a home clash with local rivals Dunstablians RFC.

Ladies vs Royston

So on what is always a poignant day Stockwood Ladies entertained a new team to us, who have a similar record to our own this year and to what on paper should be a close encounter ….

Well as ever in Sport should never guess and should react to whats in front of you .. We had a full squad of 22 albeit a little inexperienced in certain areas .. without 4 or 5 regular starters this is still a great sign as we have serious depth of squad and we should be happy about that ..The only issue from a Coaches point of view … we haven’t started with the same team once this year … which effects continuity a bit …

With Annie hurting her ankle prior to the start .. that meant a slight adjustment to the starting lineup and big thanks to Cat for taking up the reigns of fullback … if you don’t play there it isn’t easy and I thought she made a great job of it …

After we had all paid our respects to the fallen of 100 yrs ago we were ready to start .. we had warmed up well and appeared up for it .. we ko ..Sophie chases it down and makes her tackle …unfortunately she wasn’t followed by anybody else .. Royston pop the ball off to their inside centre who was …fit ,athletic,strong and very quick …. And she proceeded to run around us all … Sophie to her immense credit ..chased her all the way from their 22 to 5 meters from our line where she caught her and brought her down .. the ball came out of her hands and bounced “ forward” I believe but in the refs defence none of us could have kept up with those two … and the supporting player scooped up and scored in the corner …. Less than a minute gone and 5-0 down … .and when she did the same thing 5 mins later at 12-0 and no time gone it was looking like a long afternoon ..

After another score to take it to 17-0 .. .we started to get involved a bit and from decent possession we kept the ball alive and through several phases Daisy managed to force herself over in the corner to put us back in the game …

To be fair the Royston forwards looked like they were backing off a bit as we were hitting with a bit more intensity … but we didn’t maintain it and became a little passive and that is dangerous with the pace that Royston had …

Without prolonging the agony Royston scored another twice to take the score out to 27 -5 .. but for the last 5-6 mins of the first half was our best spell worked as a group good passing good support and looked as if Tracey had scored but was given as a knock on ..we then won the scrum against the head and Cat and Ellen nearly combined to score in the corner only to be forced into touch for half-time…

The second half started exactly like the first and the first possession Royston had they scored and well that was that really ..with another score quickly at 37-5 we were struggling … Royston played good rugby with a structure and intensity that we never matched .. clearly they had a lethal weapon who was a constant thorn and indeed scored 5 tries I believe but they had other good players as well and when you don’t have the ball its all about DEFENCE … we have worked on line speed drift defence communicating with each other .. it seems that sometimes in the heat of the battle our confidence falls and therefore our thought processes aren’t clear either …

The score had racked up to 64 -5 when we managed to thwart an attack turn the ball over and with a perfectly timed pass from Hazel our own pocket rocket had the whole pitch and nobody in front of her and duly scored in the corner as she had a foot race with the aforementioned lethal weapon and won this time …. So at 64-10 .. not quite what we were hoping for … but the best side won and as we do never gave up kept fighting until the last.

I would like to mention though some real positives from the day Emma ,came on to debut and had a great impact to the point she was awarded forward of the match … I thought Shania had a really good game was involved a lot on the ball .. the evergreen Cath worked tirelessly and Hannah Thomas tried to cover everywhere … Freya had a good Impact off the bench and Fresh returning to the scrum seemed to relish the battle .. Charlie also made her full debut and perhaps for one of your first ever 15 aside games came up against somebody she wont face that often .. a real baptism of fire .. as already mentioned Cat did well in a foreign position and I thought both our wingers Ellen and Sophie did what they had to do when required …. Finally without running through the whole Team .. .I want to give the Captain a mention, under difficult circumstances always was positive and always tried her hardest and was at the front in trying to defend… cant ask much more of your Captain but to give her all ….

Finally if its ok to indulge myself a bit …. In the 14 mths or so that we have come together as a squad .. losing players , gaining players , injuries ,birthdays and holidays etc … we still have put out a team .. and we should be really proud of that commitment from the whole team … it feels like we have stepped backwards a bit … but actually that isn’t the case .. we are in a stronger position now than we have been I would suggest ever … when we have the whole squad available we will have a strong team and a strong bench and it will be difficult to choose … I look forward to that day ….

Next week its Haringey .. so another game to raise ourselves for . Come on the Park …

St. Ives RFC U17 versus SPRFC U17

We were venturing into a new County this morning to play against St. Ives in Cambridgeshire. As we watched our hosts warm up we all thought they were quite a large team, only to realise we were watching their U15 team warm up – we then saw our opponents for the day!! A squad of 18 lads turned up and together with our hosts and a U15 team from Saffron Walden honoured our Armed Forces in 2 minutes silence at 11 o’clock.

For once it was Stockwood that came out of the trap quickest and immediately put our hosts under pressure. It was during this period that we lost ‘Lofty’ to a broken nose which would see his day finished within the first four minutes. Arnold L was brought on as a worthy replacement and I think it is fair to say had his best game this season so far. I think all of the forwards were excellent today – they all got to the breakdowns quickly and dominated set plays!

Stockwood’s first try came from a well exercised line out which saw them driving their hosts over their try line before Jack C put the ball down to give Stockwood a five to nothing lead. St Ives came back strongly and were only prevented from scoring by some strong defence by Stockwood which ultimately led to Joe L breaking through St Ives defence to get Stockwood back into our opponent’s half. After a number of phases Sam T ran through St Ives defence to run in the first of his two tries, a try that was duly converted by Kieran B.

Fair play to St Ives whose heads could have dropped as Stockwood’s second try was a real sucker punch as Stockwood had absorbed a good ten minutes of pressure on their own try line only to score a good breakaway try. Not a bit of it though as our hosts replied with a try and conversion of their own to make the half time score 12 points to 7 to Stockwood.

Although Stockwood had impressed at the start of the match it was St Ives turn to dominate at the start of the second half. Stockwood, however, were guilty of helping our hosts by giving away too many penalties and the strong start led to St Ives scoring two ties and a conversion to lead by 19 points to 12. It was now Stockwood’s turn to show their resilience and dig in once again.

Just as our hosts had in the first half Stockwood’s reply was immediate with tries from Michael K-W, a second from Sam T and a conversion from Olly D restored Stockwood’s lead. Stockwood then started to dominate our hosts and a strong end to the match led to Luke C running in two late tries, which were richly deserved as he had narrowly missed out from scoring in the first half. Olly D scored the second of his two conversions to make the final score 36 points to 19 in Stockwood’s favour.

A really good effort from all 18 players to secure a well-earned victory in a closely fought battle which saw neither side giving an inch. More of the same next week please!!

STARS IN THEIR EYES

The Park are hosting this London Luton Airport charity event with all the proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support. An entire generation spent their Saturday nights watching regular folk transform into superstars for some high-production karaoke on ITV’s Stars in Their Eyes. Hundreds of wannabe singers uttered the famous words, “Tonight Matthew I’m going to be…” as they turned from ordinary Brits into superstar impersonators.

Although Mathew Kelly won’t be presenting the LLA version of his show, there is a rumour going around that our very own Justin Harkin may be performing, so get your tickets from Dan Hooper’s wife Caron (caron.hooper@ltn.aero) now and support a very worthwhile cause.

Ladies hold a lead against Harlow

On what was an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon .. the Ladies embarked on their first big day out of the season ..with a Coach full of players and supporters to Harlows lovely new ground and facilities ..
Harlow shorn of players through injuries and unavailability had already discussed with us about lending 3 players to make a 14 aside fixture as they had 11 ..
Ourselves with 19 also down from our normal with unavailability but still a decent squad ….

All seemed well as after 3 mins or so we drove forward set the ball back passed it out wide and Sophie did the rest with her blistering pace to outsprint Harlows fullback who was no slouch herself … 5-0
However after an injury to Lisa our generosity came back at us a bit and with Annie also needing a break ..suddenly Fresh was at Fullback and Fran inside centre … Clearly this threw us a bit and despite having the majority of play we seemed a bit disjointed and lacked a bit of intensity .. and with people in positions they were not used to confidence appeared low as well.

At half-time it was still 5-0 but we just hadn’t got the ball wide .. I think this galvanized Harlow a bit and with their very good scrum half and 15 …kept us very honest …
With Danny also coming out into the backs we had forwards as backs and when “ strangely” Harlow players started arriving .. Not really being sure of the laws and wanting to ensure fairness we continued to lend….
Finally playing a bit of Rugby we pushed the ball through hands Danny fixed the full back and off loaded to Sophie who was motoring up the outside to cross in the corner and push us out to 10-0 up … with 20 mins or so left ..

This was the stage when this game really sparked into life … the ref decided everything we did was wrong and myself included didn’t help this fact and with Harlows fresh players having an impact we were under the cosh a bit … being penalised with a penalty try and a separate yellow card .. the nerves were suddenly on edge … with skills being put under pressure and starting to fail and some poor judgement it didn’t feel good……. But its at these times that being Stockwood Parks Head Coach brings me immense pride …. We do not lay down ,and whilst we may have felt some injustice we would not let it define the day holding the ball up twice as Harlow threw the kitchen sink at us … turning over possession by holding the player up in a maul 5 mtrs from our line on 2 other occasions … was truly magnificent defence …. and whilst at the whistle there was a subdued response we had emerged successful …..
I thought about lots of things to write about in this report … but thought better of it …. There are bigger things to worry about nowadays and with members of our squad showing up despite any personal situations brings it all into focus ,but this escape on a Sunday afternoon watching friends work so hard for each other and some selflessly playing for the other team is what we are all about …. We have become harder to beat and we have got some better skills …but we must not lose the heartbeat of our side which is the togetherness the camaraderie …. I include myself when I say that our expectations of ourselves have risen and we need to manage these a little better .. we must continue to play with a smile whilst trying to improve …but not at all costs …. Winning is important as that’s what competition is about but its not everything and I would do well to remember this myself..

To Charlie ,Claire and FAY ..thanks so much for your selflessness and commitment and I know you all benefitted from getting a full 60 mins rugby in ..

We take a break from the league this coming weekend and perhaps that’s a good thing with a CUP match where we can perhaps just look to express ourselves a bit …..

Final score HARLOW 7 V 10 Stockwood Park …..

U17 vs Hitchin U17

What a difference a week makes! Last Sunday was a cold, wet and miserable day compared to this Sunday when the sun was shining and there was barely a cloud in the sky!
Stockwood turned up with 17 players and our guests turned up with 14. A welcome back from injury to Alin, whose presence was more than welcome as we still have several backs out through injury and retirement! Riz lent Hitchin Luke for the first half to make up the numbers.
The old cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ really does explain how this match evolved. The first 20 minutes of the game was spent with both teams testing their opponents with neither side able to impose themselves. That was until Hitchin had a line out inside their own half, one they won but the Stockwood forwards piled on the pressure and pushed the Hitchin forwards back. The resulting ruck led to a Stockwood turnover which Will quickly passed to Kieran, who in turn released Max, who threw a nice dummy and then ran straight through the middle of Hitchin’s defence. He would have surely scored his third try of the season had it not been for a trailing leg that tripped him up before reaching the try line. As a result, the referee awarded Park a penalty try and conversion but I feel it only fair to credit Max with the try!!
Unfortunately, during the next passage of play one of the Hitchin boys got injured so Aadil came off the bench to play for them – injuries were to prove significant in the outcome of the game. The game seemed to open in the last fifteen minutes of the first half – starting with a strong run from one of Hitchin’s backs leading to a try and a conversion to tie the score at 7 points all.
Steven then stepped up from full back with two tries to make the score as the first half ended 17 points to 7 in Park’s favour. Steven’s first try came from a really good passage of play from Stockwood where they used the whole width of the pitch, first trying to break through down the right with no success before throwing the ball out to the right. A wayward pass was picked up by Steven who powered down the right wing before scoring the first of his two tries. Whereas, Steven’s first try was very much a team effort his second was because of a moment of individual brilliance, Kieran caught a Hitchin kick underneath the posts and offloaded the ball to Steven who spotted a gap and just ran the whole length of the pitch to score his second try. That was virtually the last action and a good first half was only spoilt by Jordan being withdrawn with a reoccurrence of a groin strain – an injury that meant he would not be able to play any further part in the game.

The second half started as a fourteen a side game with Stockwood coming out of the blocks quicker. Max attacked Hitchin’s back line again and from the resulting ruck Stockwood retained possession and Mark was released and although they tried Hitchin where unable to prevent him running the ball to score underneath the sticks, a try that was duly converted by Kieran to give Stockwood a 24 point to 7 lead. Unfortunately, Stockwood were unable to maintain the difference for long as Hitchin scored a try ad conversion immediately from their kick off making the score 24 points to 14.
The game then ebbed and flowed for the next ten minutes and Stockwood could have increased their lead with better decisions being taken at important moments. The momentum switched to Hitchin as Stockwood were to suffer two more injuries to Reece (shoulder) and Steven (ankle) and a further try and conversion to Hitchin.
With only four backs, the game became a twelve a side game and although Stockwood were given the chance to end the game early they chose to carry on. With only four fit backs for Stockwood the scrum size was reduced, and a few our forwards were moved to play for the backs. Gaps that had not been there for our opponents when it was a fifteen a side game started to appear, and Hitchin ran in a further two tries and on conversion to pinch a 33 points to 24 win.

I think that when the match was fifteen a side Stockwood more than held their own, but Hitchin were able to finish the stronger when the game was reduced to a 12 a side game. I am proud of the boys for the attitude they showed against a strong physical Hitchin team, their coach complimented the way we played as his side have been knocking teams down by 30 to 40 points and had it remained fifteen a side would it have ended differently?!!
Special mention to Luke and Aadil who both put a real shift in to allow the game to take place. Aadil impressed and his best moment was when he ripped the ball from Mark when he looked as though he was through for his second try of the day and Luke for using his body as a barrier in the first half in an attempt to stop Mark – Luke I didn’t catch this moment on video!!