16/03/14 by Karl Evans
|Pershore 15 Stewarts & Lloyds 28
The setting was perfect for a cup final. The playing surface was perfect at Piddle Park and with the sun beating down and only a slight breeze the conditions could not have been better as Pershore RFC entertained Stewarts & Lloyds (Corby) RFC in the RFU Midlands Senior Vase Final.
The teams were certainly evenly matched, with 2 huge forward packs battering each other continuously. Pershore had an early chance to take the lead with a driving maul from the lineout. However as it collapsed flanker Greg Shaw was spotted illegally using his boot on a player on the floor.
A penalty was awarded and the attack thwarted. S&L then took the lead soon after. A penalty just inside the 10m line was well within range and sailed through the uprights.
The lead was doubled from a similar position a few minutes later. The forward battle continued with Martin Hope and James Martin both carrying well but often defence was the key. The scrums were reasonably even with both teams managing to disrupt the opposing scrum but S&L’s variation and speed in the lineout did cause Pershore problems.
With 30 minutes gone Pershore got off the mark. However it was a Pershore mistake which caused the confusion for the visiting defence. A loose pass between Robin Haines & Tommy Hayes was picked up by centre Adrian Hanson. Spotting Stefan Ellis coming off his wing at pace he popped the ball to the supporting winger who jinked his way through the defence to score a fantastic individual try. Skipper Lewis Dolphin missed the conversion.
The next mistake Pershore made was more costly. Under pressure just five metres from their own line a overthrow at the lineout was pounced upon by an S&L forward who dived over the line for an easy score giving the visitors a 11-5 lead.
Pershore managed to pull back a penalty of their own on the stroke of half time, kicked by Dolphin.
The second half started well for Pershore winning a penalty in the middle of the park. Alex Peel took the penalty quickly and ran straight at the defenders who were yet to retreat 10 metres, winning a further penalty and also condemning the S&L loosehead prop to a 10 minute stint in the sin bin.
Pershore continued to attack and were awarded a scrum 5 metres short of the line. With a man advantage in the pack the front row of Peel, Lane and Synnuck managed to angle the scrum to give Hope a straight run at the line. However Hope cleverly arched his run and popped inside to Dolphin who scored a try which he converted under the posts.
Again S&L responded with vigour. They used the driving lineout effectively and just after they were back to a full compliment of players Pershore were adjudged to have collapsed a maul and were down to 14 for 10 minutes when Luke Hardiman was carded.
From the next lineout they turned pressure into points when their pack marched over for a converted try and giving them back the lead, 15-18. Pershore continued to press with both Tommy Hayes and Adrian Hanson going close but it was an S&L penalty that extended the deficit.
With Pershore chasing the game in the closing stages S&L capitalised on a turnover in midfield, spinning the ball wide to their winger who scored an excellently taken try under the posts, a try which was converted an ultimately sealed the win for the visitors
Midlands final heartbreak for Pershore
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