OTLEY V STOURBRIDGE STOURBRIDGE began their 2017/18 season with an 42-21 away victory over Yorkshire side Otley.

The starting line up included four debutantes in the form of skipper Sam Pailor, Niall Gibbons, Steve Leach and George Morgan.

Neil Mitchell's men also welcomed back Llyr Griffiths, who last played for the club nine years ago, and Jack Spencer.

On the bench was Charlie Jeavons-Fellows who made his first appearance as an 18 year old.

The visitors got off to a flying start when, after just four minutes, full back Joe Heatley was sent over to get the first points of the season.

This followed a clever kick by Ben Tibbetts with Dan Rundle using his pace to bear down on the defence. The resulting pressure had Otley on the back foot and a score was inevitable.

Chris Scott added the extras and it was game on. The kick chase was used to great effect throughout the game and significant territory was won and regained by this tactic.

Indeed, it was another Rundle chase on 23 minutes that regained possession and a strong carry by Sam Pailor lead to a penalty in front of the posts with the visitors opting for the 3 points taken by Scott.

This was repeated 7 minutes later but was his last action for some time as he was badly winded in a tackle and on came the evergreen Petty along with a tactical front row replacement of Wilkes and Thorne for Lea and George. The half time score was 13-0 and all seemed well for the Stour squad.

Otley kicked off the second half and it only took 2 minutes for the scorer to be troubled, again.

With Stour very much in the ascendancy, well ahead on the penalty count and dominating set pieces, there was another debut try, this time by George Morgan. He ghosted through several tackles to take a nice five points following some good handling by both backs and forwards.

Confidence now brimming, it was just four minutes later when both wingers, Dan Rundle and Josh Trinham, working together out right made ground and ensured safe possession. The ball was sent to Niall Gibbons for another debut try which was converted by Petty making the score 25-0 to Stourbridge.

A few minutes later, yet another Stour penalty went to touch and the dominant forward pack secured lineout ball fed to Mukarati at the tail. A superb forwards effort drove over the line on 52 minutes giving Stourbridge a 32-point lead including a Petty conversion.

However, playing with typical Yorkshire grit and determination, the hosts would not give in and Joe Graham, playing at blindside flanker, restored some pride following two consecutive penalties for Otley, considerable territorial gains and a well worked catch and drive. Joe Rowntree converted.

Just five minutes later, Stour attack was thwarted, a loose pass was kicked ahead by Otley and a strong elusive run by Otley right wing Henry Roberts gave them their second try and it was Roberts who converted for a 14 – 32 score line.

An illegal tackle halted another Rundle attack down the wing and, although comfortably ahead and bonus point secured, Stourbridge opted for a kick to the corner. Another dominant maul created an exact replica move for Nigel Mukarati to crash over behind a barrier of pink and blue shirts.

Otley still had some fight left and a clever jinking run by Rowntree, eluding five tackles put Stour on the back foot.

The hosts’ efforts were rewarded when substitute Henry Watson cleverly gathered a pass almost behind him to score under the posts. Rowntree converted and Otley now had a losing bonus point in their sights.

However, Stour had other things on their mind and the game was rounded off by a slick move by both forwards and backs. Jeavons-Fellows ensured that an Otley counter attack was not going to happen and his tackle and attempt to secure the ball caused an infringement with Otley penalised for holding on.

The final whistle was imminent but new laws mean that the ball does not go 'dead' when kicked out. Penalty lineout ball was gathered, once again but instead of driving over the line the ball was sent out left. A loop, miss pass and an incisive running line by Dan Rundle gave Stour an overlap which was snapped up by Joe Heatley who ended the game as he started it.

Try number six rounded off an entertaining game at this famous old ground and not many teams will come away with this sort of result against a proud and determined home side.