Tamworth 1st XV 16 Stafford 1st XV 16
A GRUELLING afternoon of rugby as Staffordshire league rivals battered into a draw to share the points.
Stafford travelled to the far South of the county for a fixture against the team sitting one place above them in Midlands 2 West (North).
Watery Spring sunshine was beating down and on the eve of British Summertime it promised to be an interesting afternoon of rugby.
Stafford started the game well and hard chasing saw them exerting the early pressure. As the teams settled into the match, it was Tamworth who broke a tackle to snatch the first try of the game, but Stafford herded the scorer into the corner to deny a difficult conversion.
Passion was always going to be high between these two sides and Tamworth were the first to be reduced to 14 men following an unfortunate yellow.
Subsequent Tamworth defending gifted the visitors a penalty which was snatched away from the posts by the wind.
Stafford continued to press and following a superb period of pressure, Vinny Hogan found his way across the line to even the scores.
The home side were restored back to full strength but were soon reduced back to 14 as they incurred their second yellow card of the match.
Stafford could not exploit the advantage and a late Tamworth penalty edged them back into a slender lead. Stafford went into half time trailing 8-5 but looking capable of winning the game.
An early Stafford penalty opened the second half and Rich Martin drew the scores back together.
Tamworth struck back immediately and a try saw them retaking a see-saw lead. This fired up the visitors, who started to play some of the best rugby of the afternoon, Jordan Turner showing his pace as he broke a tackle to score Stafford's second try.
This was followed by a Martin penalty that took Stafford into the lead for the first time in the match.
A ferocious period of attacking by Tamworth forced Stafford into some heroic defence as they repelled everything that the home side could throw at them.
Both teams were out on their feet as the physicality of the encounter started to tell. A late yellow card reduced Stafford to 14 men and this was enough for Tamworth to earn the penalty and slot the ball between the posts for the draw. This Saturday, Stafford visit Camp Hill (3pm).