Claverdon 5 Stoke Old Boys 10
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON came within a whisker of ending the 100 per cent record of leaders Stoke Old Boys, only for a controversial refereeing decision to deny the Lions what would have been a victory to remember.
Trailing by five points with ten minutes remaining, Claverdon had a scrum on the Stoke 22 and the ball was shipped to James Williams who chipped the ball through and started chasing.
Williams dived on the ball for the ‘score’ but, unfortunately for Claverdon, the only person who mattered deemed the ball to be dead at the point of grounding and disallowed the try.
The sixth placed Lions had more than matched their visitors and a four-point haul from the game would not have flattered the hosts, who had to settle for a losing bonus point.
Lions skipper Charlie Byrd said: “Stoke held out to win the game. It was a cruel finish for us as in Stoke’s words we deserved to win the game.
“With the odds heavily against us for the majority of the game, we showed amazing pride and have the right to feel we should have won.
“As gutting as it was, heads were held high and the team can feel very proud of what they did. It was a great game for both teams and one that won’t be forgotten for a while.”
Stoke got off to a good start against a Claverdon side missing several regulars and took the lead with a try out wide which was converted.
Claverdon made adjustments to their defence and suddenly the visitors’ attack was neutralised and the game was firmly in the balance.
The game turned on its head around the 20-minute mark when a scuffle broke out between the two teams but unfortunately for Claverdon the referee only saw a punch thrown by a Claverdon player and, much to the hosts’ amazement, Stoke went completely unpunished whilst a red card shown to the Claverdon player.
Unfazed by the task ahead of them, Claverdon had a scrum on the Stoke ten-yard line on the half hour mark and captain Byrd, by now playing number 8, broke open off the back of the scrum.
The ball was recycled and fly half Williams went blind to feed the ball to Sam Turrell to score in the corner and reduce the arrears to 7-5.
The half time message for Claverdon was clear – work hard and play smart – which is exactly what they did as the back line impressed and forwards had their best game of the season despite being a man down as they pushed the Stoke scrum backwards on a few occasions.
Stoke did score a penalty to extend their lead to five points but they never looked like scoring a try, whilst Claverdon kept pressing and had some impressive breaks as Fergus Mullineux made several yards and beat a fair few defenders.
Claverdon did have two proper chances to score – one of them following a Mullineux break to which Stoke’s last-ditch was impressive – before the controversial disallowed score.