Stratford upon-Avon 26 Hereford 31

Hereford maintained their improved form with a hard earned away victory over a strong Stratford side. The game was mostly an end-to-end affair in which neither side was able to wrest total control and the game was in the balance right up to the last play. Hereford were in charge for a lot of the game and it was their well organised defence which held out against a last ten minutes of determined pressure from Stratford to seal the victory by 26 points to 31.

Head Coach, Scott Sturdy said. “Probably the best performance of the season, a scintillating first twenty minutes when we played some great attacking rugby, creating a lot of territory and putting pressure on the Stratford side. We converted this into points, first with a penalty from Iwan Holder and then from an excellent set piece move from a scrum, with Bryn Goodall going over under the sticks. Stratford is a tough place to go, they are a good rugby playing side and came back into the game strongly, scoring two tries pretty much back-to-back. It was great to see us respond immediately with a well worked try after a number of phases. A short kick was collected by Iwan Holder and a fantastic offload to Josh Wright who goes over to score.”

“In the second half a Holder penalty and a Cal Duncan try got us off to a good start, but again Stratford came back into the game strongly. It was really close at the end with the score 26 – 31 and a couple of minutes to play. Overall, what a fantastic performance. A special shout out to the second and back rows, Cal Duncan, Tom Williams, Ewan Duncan, Danny Robson and Luke Yarranton, they all had superb games against the big Stratford pack.

Our ability to be able to attack with width and good footwork and then to defend with dogged tenacity got us over the line. Special mentions also to half backs Connor Sullivan and Dean Powell who controlled and marshalled the game at the right moments. A great away result. The last home game of the season coming up this Saturday against Shipston on Stour. whilst the 1870s have a difficult game at Harbury please come long and support your chosen team if you can.

We also have a race night in the evening with free entrance. A shout out to our Lions, our third/social team who played under lights on Friday at Bromyard against their second team and came away with a 28 – 34 victory. It was great to get them their fourth run-out of the season and we hope to arrange another in April.”

Hereford started strongly and controlled play for the first thirty minutes. Iwan Holder crossed the Stratford line early on, only to be brought back for the referee to penalise a previous offence. Minutes later Iwan Holder gave Hereford a good start, when he slotted a penalty given when Stratford players strayed offside. A Dean Powell kick ahead was gathered by Bryn Goodall, laid off to Josh Wright who was brought down just short of the goal line.

Hereford increased their lead with a set piece, perfectly executed. From a scrum, Connor Sullivan’s pass to Dean Powell was off loaded to Bryn Goodall, running an inside line, who crashed over for the first Hereford try, Iwan Holder slotted the conversion. The Stratford response was swift and from the restart they made ground into the Hereford 22 where they forced a scrum. They pushed over for their first try which they converted. Within a couple of minutes, they moved the ball through hands to score a converted try which gave them the lead for the only time in the game.

With the interval approaching Hereford turned up the gas, despite a bogey 5 at the par 5 2nd, Iwan Holder raced up the wing and chipped ahead, Josh Wright following up collected the ball and plunged over for the try. The conversion attempt was just wide, but Hereford had a narrow half time advantage of just a point at 14 – 15.

Hereford came out of the blocks smartly in the second half and within 15 minutes, a Cal Duncan try and a brace of penalties from Iwan Holder had added 11 points. It seemed that the game was over, but Stratford bounced back. They went through the phases, working their way back into Hereford territory and their right wing found a gap to add a try and it was game on again. The game reverted to end-to-end stuff until some pick-and-go pressure from Hereford forced a gap for Ewan Duncan to dive over for the try to seal Hereford’s bonus point.

A good run out of defence down their right wing, brushing off weak tackles saw Stratford register their bonus try and took them to within a winning margin with seven minutes of normal time to go. Hereford had to buckle down to defence and this they did, they saw time out and took 5 points to Stratford’s 2.