First success at Whitchurch

Thursday 21 February 2013 Updated: 21/02 16:38

Whitchurch 23 Stratford 24

MUCH-changed Stratford bounced back to Midlands One West winning ways with a narrow victory at Whitchurch on Saturday.

The odds were stacked against them as they were missing several players and faced a large partisan crowd on a ground at which they had never previously won.

But the Black and Whites have upset the form book on many occasions this season and this was to be no exception as they recorded a fine victory to lift them into fifth position in the table.

It was the home team who showed the early initiative as their large, burly pack tried to outmuscle the visitors.

The visitors settled and began to exert some pressure themselves but Whitchurch opened the scoring, against the run of play, after 15 minutes with a catch and drive into the corner from their first real deep foray into Stratford territory.

It stung Stratford into action and the immaculate Jack Young, playing at stand-off, orchestrated a move in the 21st minute which prised open the home defence and good work by centre Sam Joyce opened the way for ever alert wing man Callum Cook to race in and score. Young added the extras.

On the half hour mark, half backs Dave Pritchard and Young combined to set the backs loose and another flowing move saw Sam Kirby score alongside the sticks which left Young with a simple conversion.

Whitchuirch got back in contention on the stroke of half time with a converted try which reduced the arrears to 14-12 at the interval.

Stratford kept playing at a high tempo moving the heavy Whitchurch forwards around the park and excellent work from the back row of Tom Hall, Luke Torres and Chris Cathcart stopped any response from the home side.

In the engine room, locks Geoff Dyson and Flo Vialan worked tirelessly at the set plays and this effort was rewarded on 55 minutes as the Stratford pack drove over the line with Cathcart touching down.

Whitchurch, roared on by their supporters, hit back in the 68th minute they crossed the line in the corner which was quickly followed by a penalty which put them one point ahead.

The Black and Whites mounted a series of attacks and the forwards again paved the way for scrum half Pritchard to dart over five minutes from time.

The home side kicked a late penalty and piled on the pressure in the closing stages but they were unable to breach the visitors solid defence.

Stratford entertain Stoke at Pearcecroft on Saturday, March 2 (3pm).

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