TOM Richardson’s eighth try of the season and some well-organised and solid defence brought Stourbridge a workmanlike victory over struggling Otley.

Difficult conditions greatly produced a dour encounter; but winning ugly is sometimes a necessity, and two repeats will bring Stour a highly respectable top six position at Christmas. With a brisk wind at their backs, Stour struggled for cohesion through much of the first half. Positional changes along the three quarter line played their part, but nonetheless there were too many basic handling errors and wrong options.

The home side finally clicked midway through the half, and created a superb long-range score. Former Wales Sevens star Craig Richards made 40 metres down the left wing, and found Kurt Johnson running an excellent support line. As has often been the case this season, England Counties scrum half Tom Richardson popped up in the right place, and went behind the posts from 30 metres for a converted score.

Richardson was immediately in action at the other end, with a last ditch tackle that denied former Leeds Carnegie winger James Twomey an equalising try.

The home side, now resplendent in Gloucester cherry and white, produced ten minutes of excellent controlled rugby after the break, mixing options cleverly, and keeping possession.

A typically powerful Ben Barkley burst took them close to the visitors’ line, and when Otley centre Ben Hough, infringed at the ruck, referee Ed Turnill despatched him to the sin bin. Full back Jon Higgins accepted the easy penalty chance.

The remaining half an hour was dominated by Otley, who used the strengthening wind to pin Stour deep in their own territory for long periods.

The visitors piled on pressure, but well-organised and determined defence ensured that a try never came, even when home lock Simon Homer saw yellow following a spate of defensive penalties.

Man of the Match Johnson, relieved the pressure in the dying moments with a 70 metre kick and chase, that ended with Richardson being narrowly denied a touch down by Mark Kirkby.

Stourbridge: Higgins; Chance, Johnson, Barkley, Richards; Robinson, Richardson; Sturdy, Gerry, Lawrence (Baker, 61); Hughes, Homer; Rodley, Cooper, Pearson (Dean, 61). Reps – Keylock, Griffiths, Tennucci.

Otley: Georgiou; Twomey, Gill (Brown, 52), Hough, Kirkby; Murray, Depledge; Zeiss (Warner, 55), Steele (O’Donnell, 55), Blades; Parr (Denman, 14), Ball; Quinn (Stuart Costello, 60), Walker, Stephen Costello.

Referee: E.Turnill Scorers & Times: Stourbridge – Tries – Richardson (18) Cons – Higgins (19) Pens – Higgins (48) Otley – Tries – Cons – Pens – Cards – Hough (Otley, 48) Homer (Stourbridge, 60) Man of the Match: Kurt Johnson (Stourbridge) HT: 7-0