We all turned up to Stockwood today for what was to be a number of the players last game as a junior. Our opponents today were Milton Keynes Colts who came in with a good record having not lost a single game this year. In fact, they narrowly beat us in the reverse fixture earlier in the year!
Stockwood started the game with the wind against them and the way the first half started it appeared Stockwood were in for a tough day at the office and would all have to bring their ‘A’ game. If there were any doubts about the commitment they would show these were quickly quashed and it was after a sustained period of pressure Stockwood made a break down the left wing and after a number of phases Sam broke MKs defences to power over for the first try, a score that was followed up with a successful conversion by Kieran B.
This was to prove the only score of the first half as neither team were able to add any further scores as both sides showed strong defensive displays and neither side was able to break through the lines. With neither side giving an inch the first half ended with Stockwood narrowly leading by 7 points to nil.
If the first half was a close with neither side budging the second half was to prove totally different. This half was totally dominated by the hosts and they put Milton Keynes under pressure from the kick off. With the wind behind them in the second half Stockwood built the pressure on Milton Keynes and after a number of phases in their 22. Stockwood initially tried using their backs to break the MK lines but our visitors were a match for this so the next phases Stockwood used their forwards and this was to prove more successful. After a couple of drives Mark was able to break the MK lines to score to make the score 12:0.
Stockwood spent the next ten minutes pressing but to no avail as Milton Keynes showed the same resiliense they had shown in the first half. Our forwards managed to break the resistance shown and with control at the rucks were able to power over the try line three times. The first of which was scored by Michael, the second scored by Joe and Sam helped himself to his second of the day to make the score 27 points to nil.
Not to be outdone the Stockwood’s backs decided it was their turn to get in on the act. Alfie received the ball on the right wing and showed incredible balance and speed to run past four or five MK players to score making the score 32 points to nil. The next try was probably my favourite of the day, Stockwood controlled a scrum on the half way line which resulted in Max making a typical run towards the opponents line, taking a number of their players out of the game. From the resulting ruck Will passed to Kieran who made a clever chip over the MK defence – a chip that was caught by Jordan who proceeded to rum around MKs defence to score between the posts, a try that was duly converted by Mark!
Even though the match was well and truly won Stockwood were hungry for more and once again put our opponents under pressure in their own half. This pressure led to a handling error and the loose ball being picked up by KT who ran past Milton Keynes defence to make the final score 44 points to nil.
This score-line was more impressive because it was the first time Milton Keynes had been beaten this year but also Stockwood recorded their second clean sheet of the season. It was also really good to see Ollie take to the pitch after the problems he has had this year with his collar bone. Just leaves me to wish the current crop of Colts all the best as the move up to play adult rugby and it has been a pleasure playing alongside them this year.
On a cold, overcast Sunday morning 18 lads turned up to face a big Old Verulamian team. Stockwood kicked off and put our opponents under pressure straight away controlling several phases. This early dominance, however, didn’t lead to a score. In fact, it was our opponents who scored first with their first meaningful attack, helped by a few missed tackles, leading to a converted try.
This seemed to be the wake up call we needed and Stockwood controlled the rest of the first half running in four converted tries. The first was scored by Michael after a sustained period of pressure in Verulamian’s half he broke the line from a ruck to score underneath the posts. The next two tries both came from moments of individual brilliance, the first of which was scored by Alin who scooped the ball up following a mistake from our visitors and then ran half the pitch to score underneath the posts. James then showed his pace as he broke through the Verulamian’s line and then there was only going to be one winner to the try line. All three tries were duly converted by Kieran. The next try was more of a team try with some excellent passes leading to the second try of the day for James and a fourth conversion for Kieran.
Stockwood continued to press for more scores in the first half and would have had it not been for a dropped ball following an excellent offload by Joe! The first half finished with Stockwood leading by 28 points to 7.
The second half started and if Stockwood thought that it would go the same way as the first then they were in for a rude awakening. Old Verulamian’s started the stronger and after several phases early on they drove over for their second try, which was quickly followed by a conversion and a third try to close the gap to 11 points – 28 points to 19.
Stockwood Park buckled down after this early scare and were unlucky not to get their fifth try of the day as Luke C broke down the left wing leaving his opposite number in his wake only to be pulled up by the referee who judged that he had stepped into touch. Following this close call Stockwood started a period of dominance and put Old Verulamian’s under pressure – after a number of phases Stockwood controlled a ruck in our opponents 22, Connor claimed the ball and a clever offload allowed Paulius to run over for his first try of the day (no handling errors this time!). A try that Kieran converted to give him his fifth score of the day. This try was quickly followed up by another sustained period of pressure leading to James getting his hattrick with a try in the corner.
This was to prove to the last score of the day as the ref ended the game early as one of Old Verulamian’s players suffered an injury following a tackle. The final score was 40 points to 19 in favour of Stockwood Colts. I thought the whole team were really good today and fully deserved their victory.
A squad that had a perfect balance of older and wiser players, with new players and a sprinkle of colts! With a strong pack Stockwood wanted to make an impact at scrum time, however Dunstable were unable to go contested! With this change it was always going to be quick ball from the scrums.
Stockwood Park started well and with clean rucks and breaking the gainline at every opportunity, this lead to an early scoring opportunity for our 9 Sean Martyn making his debut with a tight call in the corner, but it was unfortunately ruled out. The Soon after Bryan Magwende broke the deadlock and scored just beside the post, from a great break from Vincent Elderton. The pack showed their power from a brilliant driving maul, with little resistance from Dunstable, gave Liam Hunt an easy try from the back of the maul. This was followed up nicely with some quick ball from the rucks and the allowing Stockwood to go wide, providing Vincent joining the line from full back to run powerfully from 22 to beat 3 defenders and reach out for the line! James Pedder soon reminded us what he can do when given space and running through the Dunstable midfield to add to the scoreboard.
The tables soon turned and Dunstable gained the momentum with final 10 minutes of the first half, but with Stockwood’s dogged defence and big hits coming in from Liam Hunt and Ignas. Dunstable ended the half frustrated with nothing to show for their hard work and keeping Stockwood pinned in their half.
Second half started with a number of changes in the pack and Sam Tenner coming on the wing. Stockwood Park started the second half well and were soon rewarded for their efforts seeing a quick switch of play with a debut try for Sean Martyn. Next saw great breaks from our colts Michael Keedy and Alfie Sibilia seeing them both score their first senior tries! Stockwood made some further changes in the field, Jack Coates replaced our very own Park legend Jamie Hoque through an unfortunate blow to the head. Jack Coates made a great contribution and picked up from the deck after further hard running from Will Bennett to score. The final try from the Park saw some nice play from the 10 Hooper and the 12 Mitchell to see Jason Mitchell finish under the posts.
Dunstable 2’s finally got something from the game with a try out wide in the final moments of the game, but couldn’t convert. Final score Stockwood Park 2’s 59 – 5 Dunstable 2’s.
So here we are last game of what has been a truly remarkable season … Park were travelling to Royston for a game that was to prove a Landmark for the Huns and the 18 mths of sheer hard work and commitment.
On this Sunny Sunday on the windy Therfield Heath … we were to play Royston a team that put us to the sword early in the season albeit with an ex professional having a huge say that day …. Still whoever won today could finish second providing Hitchin beat Haringey by a large score …
Clearly though having already lost to them this season and playing away this was not to be easy .. with 2 Bad injuries picked up in training to Amy and Faye who have been regulars all season and with a few girls having other thing on it’s a measure of this group of powerful women that we still had a full squad to travel with …… this is awesome I cannot explain it any other way.
Having prepared a small speech prior to the start ,there was a good atmosphere and we had warmed up nicely .. I delivered the request to MAKE IT COUNT … every pass , every tackle … give your heart and soul , if you get knocked down get back up . if you feel pain tell yourself you’re not in pain .. if they are tough be tougher …… Make TODAY COUNT… .. .
Well from the kick off Sophie King collects and runs from her own 22 to be caught out on the line in Royston’s 22 and from here for the next 15- mins the game doesn’t move .. with the forwards P ,Abbie and Emma ,Cath and Shania all putting in a shift, Daisy from 8 and Hannah Thomas who was outstanding all day setting great platforms but we just were perhaps trying too hard and not taking some very good opportunities to move the ball wide where we are really dangerous.
We had been knocking on the door now for some time and whilst Roystons defence was resolute it was narrow and we just needed to move it … finally realizing this we put a good phase together and the ball goes out to the backs with good hands finally creating the space
For Sophie King to score out wide… This was no more than we deserved but we had taken a lot out of ourselves with Ellen and Fresh having put themselves about the fullback was also having a good game stopping them both after clean breaks …
Royston have had a good season and they have a good set of forwards who play a certain way specifically their no 8 who was always a threat .. we had dropped off a bit and Royston sensed the opportunity ..however they were suffering from a similar fate to us … I think if they had moved the ball
Wide quicker we might have had some problems but the Stockwood stone wall stood firm and apart from once when they crashed over in the corner only to be held up … with a few minutes to go to halftime we managed to exit our 22 and with great hands Emma was through only to react to a call to pass and whilst Hannah was there in support she didn’t really expect the pass and knocked it on… by this time Debbie and Freya were on P and Lee-Anne taking a rest ….
The forwards managed to create one more platform and the ball was moved quickly and with space Sophie M is so dangerous and accelerated away to score under the posts .. with Tracey converting it was 12-0 and no more than we deserved for the incredible defensive display of the previous 10 mins .
Half time and chance to regroup .. nothing is finished at half time ..but we had put a real shift in and with few options in the forwards to freshen up they were going to need to roll up their sleeves and dig in .. We did decide however to move Trace back into her traditional flanker role Sophie K to fly half and Kimberley into outside center .. and we go again ….
Royston hit hard early clearly trying to get back into the game and despite some solid tackling their impressive East Midlands player forced her way through and despite some last ditch defence crashed over with 2 Huns on her back .. in fairness no more than she deserved as she had kept them in the game .
With a very good conversion being made this was now interesting 12-7 ….
Asking for another 10 percent .. Ellen had now been replaced with Amber and Ellen had been fantastic especially playing with her toe nail half off ….really gritty and Charlie for Katie … with Daisy off as well time to stand up Ladies …. Fresh decided it was time for her to put a mark on this game as we seized to wrestle the advantage back .. and only she seems to find these small gaps to burst through and so she did scoring under the posts for Tracey to convert and at 19-7 a 2 score difference …
However Royston weren’t finished and from a slight lack of concentration a quick penalty was taken they got some go forward from yes you guessed it their very good 8, they then managed to pass it out and their winger who had very little to do finished well in the corner for an instant reply and at 19-12 with 20 minutes to go it was anybody’s game …. Making a switch pulling Debs out to outside center and P back on at Flanker it was now the moments we had asked for the hearts on the line that extra 10% from somewhere …. We have been unbeaten since Xmas and I had put that down to a MENTAL strength as a unit that I don’t see in other teams .. we are never beaten and always play to the final whistle ,only the league winners match us in this respect and as the 2 very close games against them proved …. I just felt it would be ok and this final 15 minutes was perfect as first Debs brushing people aside gets us into a good position ..eventually though the pressure was too much and with some lovely hands and support work it goes wide and Sophie ..who still had a lot to do finished in style cutting back inside beating 3 defenders to score her second of the day …This seemed to be too much for Royston now as we really started to play some good rugby and with Hannah looking to have nearly scored on 3 occasions to be pushed back the ball was re-cycled and Debs crashed over from Center at 29-12 and with 3 minutes to play ..Royston had one last go but the Parks Stone wall stood firm and that’s how it finished ….
With the news coming through that Hitchin had beaten Haringey by 83-7 .. this was truly remarkable turnaround .. Haringey were second and unbeaten when we played them just before Xmas … we truly believed we should have won that game and didn’t and with the terrific performance against Hitchin which a lot of people felt if we didn’t just pip them a draw would have been a fairer result..gave us the belief that we were a match for anybody. All we could do was win our games and see what happened .. Haringey lost 4 of their last 5 we won all ours and ended up points the same .. however the points difference was in our favour and so 2nd PLACE ….
I have run out of adjectives to describe how we have played … 18 mths ago we started to play in a Division which had experienced Teams playing we have in that time gone from having big points to nil losses to finishing Runners UP it is INCREDIBLE
So on the complete opposite of a day to our previous run out we set off for Kilburn Cosmos.. a team we always enjoy visiting a truly lovely bunch who give everything on the field and are great hosts after .
The Great News is that Kilburn have been successful with their recruitment drive and had a squad of 17 for the first time in ages and they were really looking forward to playing a “proper “ game of Rugby
We have had a tremendous commitment again this season and with 21 on the traditional Coach journey all was set .
Now with one of our greatest supporters celebrating her 60th Birthday the previous eve .. .I was worried about what condition we would all be in ..but they were all there and on time and in good spirit so no worries …
With the wind and the drizzle pretty much set it was a little cooler than the mid summers day of the previous Sunday ..but not bad conditions for the game .
We kicked off and it was clear the energy levels weren’t quite where we wanted them to be ..whilst we played pretty much the first 20 minutes in Kilburn’s half … Kilburn had a lot of the ball … but our defence was pretty good and they were going nowhere despite having possession … Debs made a couple of Breaks , Daisy and Abbie were trying but things weren’t quite coming off and we weren’t using the backs and as previously mentioned energy levels were low we were a bit passive …just not functioning quite right …. Finally moving the ball quickly Debs and Sophie combined to put Sophie M away and she finished under the posts 5-0… So it was clear we needed to create a platform move the ball wide and both Ellen and Sophie would be too quick … Having been a bit grumpy about what I was watching, for the next 15 mins or so we dominated and whilst not firing on all cylinders it was much better .. Sophie K made a great break to score and Sophie M scored twice more with Tracey converting 2 out of the 3 suddenly we were 24-0 up .
With P having a good influence when she came on .. and Ally and Chloe getting a run out it was good that the whole squad was being used … Red had a bit of a knock so Sophie K dropped to Fullback and Kimberly also came on and with Daisy also needing a break pretty much the whole squad was on …
The last 2 mins of the Half Kilburn managed to get inside our 5 metre line and despite repelling wave after wave of attack .. with Lee-Anne sin binned for penalty top -up .. Kilburn finally broke the resistance and scored a deserved try for their efforts .. although not really threatening they had played some good rugby in the first half. Despite leading 24-7 at half time its a measure of our expectation levels that we knew we could play better and with a change at scrum half with Charlie being replaced by Claire ..Charlie had had a pretty good game in fairness .. with Sophie M and Ellen taking a break it was Cath Swindell to come on to get all 21 good game time …
Playing with 14 for the first 7 mins of the second half we just picked the energy up a bit … with a few decisions going against Amy which wound her up a bit and that had the effect of some big hits going in putting us on the front fit and with Sophie K joining the line from fullback to score in the corner despite 3 Kilburn players trying to stop her it was a positive start to the second half .. from then on however it returned a bit to the pattern of the first half although possession stats were more 50-50 .. the game was played entirely in Kilburn’s 22 .. they never really threatened despite a lot of hard work … the good thing for us was that our inexperienced players Ally , Chloe , Cath Swindell , Kimberley ,Charlie and Claire …. got some pretty decent game time and all stood up to make their tackles and be generally in the right place … with Daisy returning and making some good yardage .. we still seemed reticent to move the ball wide but with 5 mins or so to go Daisy crashed over with 3 or 4 hanging on for the final score in the corner and at 34-7 complete what appears a comfortable win …. I wouldn’t describe it as that because Kilburn never give up and will become harder to play if they can keep the squad together.
However for us its now 4 wins on the bounce scoring 129 pts and conceding just 31 …. since Christmas apart from Hitchin who have won every game our form would put us second in the League and indeed having despatched the 2nd placed team last week ..its clear our huge improvement has now given us some consistency at a decent level .. and its a sign, whilst the coach was a bit moany … even after a heavy night the mental strength was there to get the job done
2 Games left this season … Home to Tabard and away to Royston .. if we win both of those then we can finish second if other results go our way … if we win both the games we can finish 3rd … however we have lost to both these teams this season so its no easy task ….. but you know what … I believe you can do it …….c’mon the Park
Stockwood Ladies entertained Haringey in the latest league game on what was a really hot Sunday afternoon in February ….
Park have been excellent since the turn of the year and especially against the top teams starting to show some real quality .
Haringey are second in the League and Park are chasing them down and today would be key if we were going to achieve this .
With London Road starting to become a fortress Park started with real intensity and in those first 10 minutes set the platform , with the forwards working really hard Fran getting her hands on the ball a lot on the fringes ,Shania getting to every breakdown first and with the terrible twosome of Abbie and Amy terrorising Haringeys forwards, Park were getting plenty of the ball . Losing possession in Haringeys 22 the oppos 10 kicked to clear her lines … with Annie sitting deep at fullback she ran on to the ball it bounced kindly straight into her hands ..and like an arrow she set off down the line , nobody got anywhere near to her and she ran under the posts for the first score and with Tracey converting 7-0 and deserved … .
Haringey are not second in the league by chance .. they raised themselves and attacked with pick and go on the fringes only to be met with great defence from Lee-Anne and Fay .. stand in Captain Daisy was making ground in counter and Haringey were struggling to get clean ball.
Park had got themselves into a bit of an arm wrestle and perhaps on occasions didn’t release the ball out wide to the dangerous Sophieees ..ie there was 2 of them … but the off loading in contact was excellent and the clean breaks started to appear and the support play was excellent .. Fran , Abbie , P ..Sophie K .. all made clean breaks and looked to have scored only for Haringey to scramble back and hold the ball up over the line … by this time Debs was having an impact and when we didn’t have the ball the tackling from Park was excellent Kimberley and Sophie K particularly standing out.. Finally Park got the second break through when P was caught yds short of the line but Kimberley was there in support to finish it off and score her first try for the club.
At Half time it was 12-0 ..but credit to Haringey as they defensively kept themselves in the game without threatening too much in attack.
In the second half the big Park squad started to bear fruit as the finishers cane on to do just that and with the offloading and support play being exceptional Park started to run away with it scores from Amy ( whole squad maul driven over the line) Claire at scrum half ..league debut … Fresh , Sophie on the wing and Finally Amber who finished off a sweeping move that took us from our own 22 to score under the posts and with Tracey Converting 3 of the tries a truly superb performance by everybody …. Haringey never gave up and in between the last 2 scores recorded a consolation of their own … final score 43-5 to Park and a real statement of intent ..
We have come so far in 18mths and I have said it many times but we now can see a real strength in depth of squad … with the Captain and previous Captain away ,Hannah on East Midlands Duty and regular wing Ellen ill …. We are in a good place …… all down to you girls remember that …
Next week Kilburn … lets keep it going …. Truly magnificent
Stockwood Park served up seven sparkling tries, in an emphatic win over Rushden and Higham at London Road. Rushden took an early lead following up a kick ahead in the first attack of the game but thereafter gained the initiative and started to dominate possession and territory with Jack Brooks, Will Varnals and Dominic Barnes to the fore. They took the lead in the 8th minute when No 8 Ben Griffin drove over from short range, Brandon Lewsey converting, and improved that with two more tries. Frank Daly and Will Standring both benefited from breaks by Harry Bishop and Kyran Ryan and fine support play from the forwards, to finish off flowing moves in the corner and extend the lead to 21-8 at the interval.
After the break, they stretched their lead further through tries from the rumbustious Will Bennett and veteran James Hankey. The visitors fought back gamely with two tries of their own, but Park finished with a flourish, a fine individual effort by scrum half Alex Lovell and an opportunist effort from Jack Wharton. Lewsey completed the scoring with his 7th conversion to finish with a 100 per cent record in a fine 49-23 victory. Skipper Tom Childs declared himself happy with the victory, commenting ‘it was important to bounce back after the defeat last week brought our winning run to an end. As long as we continue to work hard in training we will continue to grow and finish the season strongly’.
Park’s next league encounter is away to Daventry on March 2nd.
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