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It's four wins in four at home for Stafford 1st XV

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: January 14, 2014

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Stafford 18 Ludlow 6

Stafford 1st XV made it four wins out of four at home, following a convincing demolition of fifth placed Ludlow.

Stafford returned to the Cathedral for their first home league game of 2014, preparing a warm county town welcome for a travelling Ludlow side.

Pre-match commentary from Ludlow called for a bonus point win to reignite their promotion prospects against a team embroiled in a relegation battle. Stafford were prepared for a torrid afternoon of rugby against a side who consider themselves to have perhaps the most attacking back line in the league.

An early morning pitch inspection gave credit to the Stafford ground staff and the superb job that they had done to ensure an afternoon of rugby.

Ludlow opened proceedings with some fluid rugby, raiding deep into the Stafford half. Two early penalties saw Ludlow opening up a six point lead and their confidence around the pitch spoke of their league superiority over a team having to treat every game as a cup final.

With a mixture of ferocious brute force and sublime running attacks, Stafford hacked their way up the pitch and established camp in the Ludlow 22. The visitors tried to play their way out but were outmuscled, outplayed and outwitted as Stafford proceeded to dominate in all areas.

The home side came close on a couple of occasions and may have felt aggrieved as a decapitating tackle halted a certain try by Vinny Hogan.

Stafford went into half time trailing 6-0 but having played all of the rugby and deserving to have a significant lead over the visitors.

The second half opened with Stafford trying to unlock the opposition defence, as they continued the siege of the Ludlow line. Continual forced defence lead to the visitors being reduced to 14 men as a yellow card was flourished.

As Stafford continued to brutalise the travelling Shropshire team, the penalty count started to climb, Nick Oxley kicking the first points to eat into the lead. Next it was the captains turn to add to the tally, as a rampaging Dan Smith swatted aside the defence to score the first try of the match, Nick Oxley adding the conversion for the lead.

The visitors appeared to have no response against a home side who continued to dominate all areas of the game and the boot of Oxley punished them further for conceding another penalty.

Ludlow then started a mini revival and began to put together their best attacking spell of the game. This was soon disrupted as a resurgent Stafford scrapped their way back up the pitch and then switched to text book flowing rugby.

Charlie Venables mesmerised the opposition as he danced across the line for his first try in only his second full senior game for the club.

Ludlow continued to try and build some momentum, but the Stafford defence was as solid as the attack had been audacious and their attempts to get across the clubhouse line were doomed to failure.

The game ended 18-6 to Stafford and on this performance the spectators could be forgiven for thinking that the league positions in the match programme had been accidentally misprinted.

Next up for Stafford is Saturday's away league fixture at Moseley Oak (2.15pm).

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