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Harbury 22 - 17 Stoke Old Boys

Midlands 4 West (South)

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2014 09:44pm
Harbury, Stratford-on-Avon
By Jerry Birkbeck
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With many games across the County again falling victim to the conditions, it was a credit to Harbury's pitches and the extensive drainage project started last season that this game took place on relatively solid ground.

Winning the toss, Stoke OB's elected to use the small incline, but significant wind to their advantage in the first half. However it was Harbury who struck first, with second row Tom Kittendorf claiming the ball back from Harbury's kick off and gaining good field position. The Harbury forwards recycled the ball well through several phases, with the backs looking to play an expansive game despite the tricky conditions. After working up towards the Stoke line, Harbury were awarded a scrum, with number 8 Rick Smith picking up at the base and feeding scrum half Luke Dunne who side stepped his opposite number and darted over for a 5-0 lead. 

 Harbury continued to try and play fast, attacking rugby, but the strong wind often meant long passes didn't go to hand and their progress was halted. Stoke used the wind to their advantage, kicking a large share of their possession down in to the home teams 22. Gaining valuable field possession from penalties, Stoke were able to register two quick scores before half time, through forward set piece play, and a kicker judging the wind to perfection to take the two conversions and a penalty for a 17-5 half time lead. 

Harbury were happy to turn around with a relatively narrow deficit considering they had to play from deep to gain any territory with kicking simply not a sensible option. With the turn around in advantage, Harbury started to assert their dominance, with fly half Russ Clarke pinning the visitors back in to their own 22. 

Harbury closed the gap after strong running in the backs with Daz Kittendorf and Rob Andrews linking up well in the centres, with Tom Webb joining the line well from full back. Their running took Harbury up to the Stoke line and second row Gaz Evans was able to battle his way over from close range. 

From several penalties Clarke put the forwards in a strong field postion who repaid his efforts by using two line outs to huge effect with Chris Milburn claiming the last two tries of the game with well engineered rolling mauls from 15 metres to stretch away, Clarke managing just the single conversion from wide out positions.  

With time up, Stoke were awarded a penalty on the half way line and opted to take the losing bonus point, having not been able to breach the Harbury defence in the second half. The home team managed the conditions well and contained the Stoke forward threat a in the second half and were happy to have taken a bonus point victory and remain on course for a promotion push going in to the final 6 games of the season. 

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