IT was a good weekend for Stafford 1st XV as they advanced to round three of the Midland Intermediate Cup and bagged five tries in a local friendly.
Stafford automatically advanced to the next stage of the cup competition after scheduled opponents Nuneaton Old Edwardians withdrew.
A friendly at Burntwood was quickly arranged and the hosts offered a good test for the visitors, as they are flying high at the top of the league below Stafford, without having suffered a loss this season. However, Stafford ran out worthy 33-15 victors.
Stafford started the game brightly, but a sprightly Burntwood absorbed all of the early pressure and showed tenacity in defence which blunted the visitors initial momentum.
The home side took their opportunities that were offered and a well worked penalty propelled Burntwood into a slender lead.
Supported by a large vocal crowd, the home side started to work their way back into the game, although Stafford were solid in defence and forced a minor lapse by Burntwood which allowed Danny Duggan to hack forward the loose ball and sprint over the line for the first try of the game, Nick Oxley grabbing the conversion.
The Stafford forwards started to rumble and were getting the better of the early scrums, building on this they launched a typical full frontal assault.
As the pack pushed over the Burntwood line, Gaz Phillips fell on the ball for the try, Oxley adding to the points with the conversion.
Burntwood fought to take control of the game again and looked to be building a good platform, but it was the turn of Oxley to break out of defence with a superb run, to score the third try of the half and he added to this with the conversion.
Stafford went into half time leading by 3 – 21, looking dangerous in attack and solid in defence. The visitors started the second half strongly and forced Burntwood into an immediate defence. Sustained Stafford pressure continued to test Burntwood, Alex Reffell eventually finding the smallest of gaps to force his way through and across the line for the opening try of the half, while Oxley maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot.
As the weather deteriorated, passions spilled over and both sides were temporarily reduced to 14 due to yellow cards. Burntwood responded faster to the enforced changes in the teams and took full advantage with a converted try.
With both teams back up to 15 players it looked to be Stafford who were finishing the strongest, with a succession of penalties pushing Burntwood back up the pitch. Kevin Peacock fed off the forward momentum and showing good strength, found his way across the line for the visitors final try of the day.
Burntwood closed the game with a well worked consolation try to narrow the final score. This Saturday, Stafford return to league duty with a trip to Old Saltleians (3pm).