STOURBRIDGE secured a rare victory at Wharfedale as their preparations for the new season gathered pace.
They claimed a 17-12 away win against opposition playing at a high level.
Early pressure from the hosts saw a ball carrier a held up over the line and an attacking scrum awarded. A huge drive by the Stour pack secured a take against the head but a fluffed clearance kick saw the hosts throw everything into attack. A penalty was kicked for the corner, the defenders were drawn by a nicely worked feint from the base of a maul and the hosts’ scrum half James Doherty danced across the line to score.
Stour’s dominance of the scrum continued as tighthead Mark George’s opponent buckled under pressure and the penalty was kicked to touch.
A wave of Stour attacks drove into the 22 but the home defences held out until a defender strayed offside.
Stour declined the three easy points on offer and unsurprisingly opted to scrum, but number eight Chris Depper’s drive was held up illegally, enabling Stour to scrum again. The ball was worked to debutant right wing Tom Morris who sneaked over in the corner to score.
Left winger Stef Cooksammy stepped inside his marker and found acres of space as he motored though the defences, reaching the hosts’ 22 before the defenders collared him, the support arrived and a penalty was awarded for offside. Stour kicked to the corner but disappointingly dropped the throw.
Play moved down field and the hosts looked to exploit a big overlap, but Stour got out of jail when an over-optimistic offload went astray.
The Half time was 7-5 to Wharfedale.
The hosts’ three quarter line attacked the right flank but were held up by solid tackling, the ball lost out of the side a ruck where the alert Cooksammy gathered it and hared off down field with the defences all at sea, following a 55m run-in he produced a theatrical swallow-dive into the corner to score.
Outside half Gareth Bown nailed a difficult conversion.
Despite losing Robbie Hurrell, who landed heavily in a tackle, Stour managed to isolate a ball carrier in the tackle and secure a penalty for holding on.
A textbook catch and drive down the slope saw Dale Garner bag a third try.
Content to defend the lead, Stour continued to kick deep infield, trusting their defences to repel the hosts’ running game and looking for turnovers in the tackle.
Wharfedale drove a maul into the Stour 22 then secured a penalty for offside that was kicked to the corner. The drive was held up but Doherty spotted the smallest of gaps around the fringes and burst through to score.
Both sides continued to try to run the ball, but with a rash of substitutes on neither could fashion a line break against well organised defences.
The tide had well and truly turned in the scrums where the hosts drove Stour off their own feed, kicked for the corner and launched a catch and drive. It was held up with Stour awarded a scrum.
The hosts were awarded a penalty for collapsing, they opted to scrum again but this time Stour held steady, the hosts fumbled it at the base and the visitors were content to kick it off the park to hear the full time whistle.
Though both sides were understrength, it was a significant victory for Stour. Director of Rugby Neil Mitchell will have a clearer vision of his line-up for the opening league fixture away at Harrogate in a fortnight's time.
There is rugby this week at Stourton Park when Stourbridge Lions take on Wednesbury in a friendly tonight (7pm).