Stafford 1st XV 33 Willenhall 1st XV 15
STAFFORD 1st XV looked to consolidate their league position against a Willenhall team currently sitting near to the bottom of the Midlands 2 West (North) table.
In the early season away fixture at Willenhall the hosts managed to smother a bright Stafford performance to take the points. The visitors were given a colourful and raucous welcome to the County Ground courtesy of a touring Cirencester team who were guests at the club for the day.
Stafford started the game with a high intensity demonstrating their intentions early and piling through the visitors settling defence.
Willenhall attempted to counter attack, but the Stafford assault was bruising and the first points came from a Rich Martin penalty. The assault continued from the restart as Dan Smith smashed his way through, carrying the ball deep into the opposition half.
Nick Oxley grabbed the ball to continue the attack and the defenders could not stop the first Stafford try of the afternoon.
Willenhall retaliated with some forward attacks of their own as the home side repulsed the attention through an effective defence. A prowling Martin pounced on a meandering pass to run three quarters of the pitch for the second Stafford try, the conversion adding to the points. The Willenhall forwards proceeded to turn the momentum assisted by a number of penalties, a try and kicked penalty later they had reduced the deficit to 15-10.
As Stafford made adjustments at the start of the second half, Willenhall took full advantage and snatched the next try to level the scores.
From this point the game became all about Stafford as continual rolling attacks forced Willenhall to endure the siege on their own try line. Martin broke the stalemate kicking a penalty and Oxley added the third home side try by charging over in the corner.
A yellow card reduced Willenhall to 14 men allowing Oxley to score his third try and seal the bonus point win for a hard working Stafford, Martin slotting the conversion. A subsequent Martin penalty signalled the last points of the afternoon. A late Stafford yellow card gave Willenhall a glimmer of hope, but they could not find any further advantage against the 14-man home side.
It was another good win for Stafford which sees a gap starting to open up between the points of the four teams under them. Stafford dominated for long periods and played some inventive rugby .
Stafford are back in league action again this Saturday at home against Bridgnorth (3pm)