Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 13/11 19:30
Stratford 42 Walsall 29
STRATFORD bounced back to winning ways in an exciting Midlands One West clash at Pearcecroft on Saturday.
Still beset by injuries, Stratford again put out a much changed team but it gelled well after geting off to a dream start.
The kick off was knocked on by the visitors who then conceded a penalty. A lineout led to a driving maul, from which No 8 Dave Pritchard forced his way over the line.
The impressive half back pairing of Matt Allen and Jonny Duncan got the backline moving well with centres Jack Young and Max Biltcliffe prominent.
Scrum half Allen released captain and wing Jay Kennedy who darted through several opponents for a try which fly-half Duncan converted for a 12-0 lead after five minutes.
Flanker Dom Grellier next led a charge and was stopped illegally for Duncan to slot a penalty.
Walsall’s first attack came after ten minutes but was repulsed with a running move the length of the field involving Pritchard, Young, Kennedy and full back Jo Cook with another home try only averted by a final forward pass. Kennedy left the field injured after a spear tackle but the resulting yellow card seemed to galvanize the depleted visitors who reduced the arrears with a converted try.
Jo Cook was nearly through, but the Black and Whites next score came from a Duncan penalty.
Four minutes later Allen collected his own box kick before feeding Young whose mazy run left several defenders in his wake before touching down, Duncan adding the points for a score of 25-7 lead after 30 minutes.
Wing Callum Cook ran the length of the field, but Stratford’s next and crucial bonus point fourth try came from a counter attack started by brother Jo, and finished by replacement wing Dan Whitby, Duncan again adding the conversion.
Stratford’s tackling, very strong to this point, fell away and allowed Walsall in for a try.
The hosts also received a yellow card but responded with Duncan slotting over another penalty for a 35-12 half time lead.
Walsall stepped up a gaer on the resumption and more weak tackling allowed them to reduce the arrears with a converted try.
In the first half the refereeing was impeccable, but now became rather capricious and lax control of the scrum allowed Walsall’s heavyweight pack more into the game.
Stratford, who were further hampered by another yellow card, repulsed several attacks but had to concede a bonus point try from a driving maul.
A promising Stratford move from the restart was halted by an injury to Pritchard, while at the other end Callum Cook made a try saving tackle.
An apparently clean break from a Stratford scrum brought a penalty for crossing, Walsall taking advantage with a try to bring the scores uncomfortably close at 35-29.
The Black and Whites now reverted to their high tempo game of the first half, with Grellier, flanker Ross Hutchinson and hooker Tom Hall all close to scoring from forward drives.
Stratford were hit by yet another yellow card but responded with another forward maul from which prop Matt Cook drove over for a try. Duncan converted to make the game safe and deny the visitors a losing bonus point.
It was an excellent game with Stratford back to top form for much of the match. In a team effort the often unsung front five played a vital part .
With numerous contenders, the Dick Workman man of the match trophy was awarded to Dom Grellier.
Stratford have no fixture this Saturday, while the 2nd XV match against Newbold has been cancelled as the two teams meet at Pearcecroft on Sunday, November 18 in the Warwickshire Cup (2.15pm).
It is hoped to arrange a pool match this Saturday (2.15pm) and to screen the England-Fiji international.
Stratford’s next league match is at Barkers Butts on Saturday, November 17.
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