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Stour power cuts through steely Sheffield
8:18pm Saturday 25th January 2014 in Stourbridge RFC
SUPER Stour slugged it out in the mud with Sheffield Tigers to secure a 31-7 success and cut the gap on National Two North leaders Darlington Mowden Park to just three points in the process. - write NICK PULLEN
Stourton Park was struck by monsoon type weather about half an hour before kick-off.
So severe was the weather, that the Lions 2 game on the adjacent pitch which kicked off half an hour earlier, had to be abandoned.
By the time Stour and Sheffield took to the pitch, the playing surface was already beginning to resemble a quagmire.
But that didn't stop Stour from producing some spectacular rugby.
Despite the desperate conditions, Stour produced a couple of stunning handling movements that resulted in early tries for outside centre Stefan Shillingford and fly half Sam Robinson.
Stour flung the ball down the line for Shillingford to squeeze over in the corner after nine minutes.
Then slick handling by Shillingford and full back Tom Jarvis sent Robinson racing over for a second try which winger Jamie Hearn converted.
Sheffield belied their lowly position and looked nothing like a third from b ottom side.
Having secured a recent win over Sedgley Park and then losing out by a single point to Macclesfield, they were, to put it politely, no mugs.
They tried to bulldoze their way back into the game, but Stour's solid defence were having none of it.
A third try followed before half time as Stour secured well won line-out ball before back row player nigel Mukarati was driven over to make the half time score 17-0.
Stour were then awarded a penalty try on 47 minutes following a five metre scrum where Sheffield were being shunted back over their own line, when the scrum broke up and referee Brendan McGaffney lost patience, Hearn kicking the extras.
Mukarati then snapped up his second try in almost identical circumstances, again winning line-out ball before being driven over by his pack.
Hearn again converted putting Stour 31-0 ahead, but steely Sheffield staged a spirited finish and were rewarded with a try of their own seven minutes from time, following a series of pick-up-and-drives which saw No.8 Josh Redfern force his way over for outside centre Will Carrington to convert.
A bonus point win was best case scenario for Stour, which sets them up nicely for next Saturday's trip to Sedgeley Park, which could prove one of the defining games of the season.
Stour: Jarvis; Farrington, Shillingford, Barkley, Hearn; Robinson, White; George, Wright, Hill; Hughes, Moore; Mukarati, Uzoigwe, Depper. Replacements: Dipple, Rodley Tuipulotu, Garner , May.