Rugby Union
High-flying Wanderers beaten

01/03 Updated: 08/03 16:32

Stratford 16 Worcester Wanderers 13

A SPARKLING second half performance helped Stratford secure a splendid Midlands One West victory over fouth placed Worcester at Pearcecroft on Saturday.

With several changes in the back line, Stratford initially struggled to find the rhythm of recent matches.

On a spring like day Worcester enjoyed most of the initial possession and went ahead with a penalty.

Stratford attacks by captain and fly half Simon Brain, centre Sam Joyce, No 8 Rob Young and wing Dan Whitby were repulsed and a penalty hooked wide.

From a garryowen by scrum-half Drew Pritchard, full back Rich Pepperell went close and the Black and Whites took a quick tap penalty when a straightforward kick at goal might have been more productive.

The visitors increased their lead with a dubious penalty which saw Stratford increase the tempo.

The forwards, with the front five of Simon Baldwyn, hooker Tom Hall (and later Mark Hibberd), Matt Cook, Ed Walton and Geoff Dyson prominent, began to dominate but their efforts went unrewarded by half time.

After the restart a home knock on was hacked on and Worcester increased their lead with a converted try. It stunned the hosts and too many errors crept into the Black and Whites play.

Play improved with a run by wing Dan Whitby nearly reaching the line, while centre Elliot Smith beat five players during a break which ended with a penalty that was converted by Brain.

A further penalty led to a Worcester yellow card. The ball was kicked to the corner and, from the lineout and maul, Walton and flankers Marko Mladenovic and Chris Cathcart were prominent before Young forced his way over. The conversion attempt from the touch line rebounded back off the post.

Three minutes later Worcester were marched back 20 metres following another penalty and Brain’s kick was duly successful which reduced the arrears to two points.

Cathcart kicked ahead and the ball was taken on by Brain and wing Matt Allen.

In the next attack a kick ahead by Brain was fielded by Worcester and a wild pass was intercepted for Pritchard to dash 20 metres to the line, and put Stratford ahead.

In the last ten minutes several Worcester attacks were repulsed and Stratford went close to another score when Pepperell fielded a long kick and took it back almost to the line.

After the celebrations the Dick Workman man of the match trophy was awarded to Ed Walton.

Once Stratford got into their stride this was a most gratifying result against a well drilled and streetwise outfit.

Much more of the same will be needed at unbeaten Sutton Coldfield this Saturday (3pm).

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