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Thursday 31 January 2013 Updated: 31/01 11:50
Stratford upon Avon II 17 Old Laurentians II 5
A SUPERB team effort saw Stratford overcome Old Laurentians and book their place in the Warwickshire 2nd XV Cup final on Sunday.
Stratford now face Nuneaton in the final which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 17.
The Stratford pack, which dominated for most of the tie, laid the foundations for a gutsy but well deserved success over Old Laurentians who are unbeaten in their league this season.
Both siudes struggled to come to terms with the difficult wet and muddy consitions in the early exchanges.
Stratford mastered them the better and runs by No 8 Eddie Walton deep into opposition territory opened the way for the Stratford pack to pour into as flankers Anthony Pritchard and Chris Cathcart stopped OLs gaining any momentum.
Stratford opened the scoring after 15 minutes when scrum-half Dominic Skinner and Walton made a good break which was stopped just short of the line but the ever alert Pritchard was on hand to collect the ball and race over.
The experienced second row pairing of Rupert Cross and Simon Gaskell shone as they took their own lineout ball and disrupted OLs at every opportunity.
The visitors were being pinned in their own half and another fine piece of forward play by the Stratford pack saw prop Matt Butler make several yards into the OLs 22,
The ball was recycled to centre Elliott Smith who waltzed around several defenders before scoring under the posts. Max Billcliffe added the extras.
The influence of experienced captain Richard Pepperrell, playing at stand-off, was evident as the Black and Whites continued to press and they led 12-0 at half time.
The pattern of play continued for the opening ten minutes of the second period as good runs from wing men Johnny Bainton and Richard Beattie nearly led to further scores for the home side.
However, on 60 minutes the visitors at last got a foothold in the match with a try in the corner.
But Stratford responded almost immediately when the experienced Pritchard exploited the blindside following a maul to cross the line and restore the 12 point advantage.
The final minutes saw the visitors desperately trying to get back into the match but the home defence held firm to record a fine victory.
Stratford 2nds have a home league match against Old Leamingtonians this Saturday (2.15pm).
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