10:02am Thursday 7th November 2013
STOURBRIDGE face a moment of truth this Saturday when they lock horns with league leaders Macclesfield in National Two North’s match of the day at Stourton Park.
Both sides put their unbeaten records on the line in a contest neither side can afford to lose.
Stourbridge director of rugby Neil Mitchell is under no illusions of the task ahead and describes the game as the most important since the play-off defeat to Worthing.
Mitchell said: “This is our moment! “All those who went through the pain of the Worthing game will know what this means to us and we’ll be going into it with all guns blazing.
“We go into the game from a position of strength as everyone is available — a rare position to be in during November.
“Macclesfield are top by virtue of the fact we’ve not picked up any bonus points in our last four games and as a result, some people are already writing us off — I’m quite liking the idea of going into the game as underdogs.”
Although Macclesfield top the table, Mitchell will point to the prowess of his defence. They have conceded just 93 points from nine games compared to Macclesfield’s 170.
Stourbridge again underlined their defensive qualities with a 20-3 success at a spirited Leicester Lions.
In fact Lions rarely threatened Stour’s line such was the quality of their defence.
Mitchell had more concerns with the referee’s interpretation of the scrummaging rules.
Mitchell said: “One week the scrum goes well, then another, both sides get penalised off the park. “The players are becoming confused by the lack of consistency — just as I am!”
Lions began well and forced an early penalty which was kicked by centre Jon Boden.
Stour winger Matt Farrington then produced a relentless kick chase that resulted in a penalty which allowed Jamie Hearn to level matters.
Further Stour pressure was rewarded when Stefan Shillingford drew in several defenders before sending his centre partner Ben Barkley over for a try which Hearn converted.
Then a high tackle on scrum half Pete White was punished with a kick to the corner. Flanker Nigel Mukarati caught the resulting line-out and was driven over the line for a try.
The game was continually punctuated by the referee’s whistle but Stour steadily piled on the pressure and obtained a third try when Shillingford chipped ahead for Farrington to gather and score.
Afterwards Mitchell singled out the performance of youngster Chris Depper.
He said “He gets better with every game. I like the way he works hard and listens. He is making the number eight shirt his own.”
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