Bishop's Stortford beaten at Old Elthamians in National League 1
BY JOHN ALLANSON
Bishop’s Stortford battled bravely in horrendous conditions as they lost 17-3 against a powerful and generally well-organised Old Elthamians side.
Stortford exerted early pressure away to the National League 1 leaders, but failed to press home the advantage. It was the home side that had the first clear scoring chance when fly-half Tom White missed a shot at goal after Stortford had been penalised at a breakdown in midfield.
Stortford ground their way back into the game and, after a tremendous driving maul took them some 15 metres into the OEs red zone, they were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts for offside and Tom Banks duly took the three points after 13 minutes.
The hosts bounced straight back onto the attack and played some remarkably controlled rugby in the cold, wet and windy conditions, testing the visitors’ defence to the full. It was a mistake by the visitors that opened the door for the first home score, however, when an attempted chip kick in midfield was charged down and quick handling by OEs stretched the defence, allowing White to dummy his way over for a try, which he converted himself after 20 minutes.
The remainder of the half was spent mostly in a midfield arm wrestle, with Stortford’s marauding loose play cancelling out OEs’ clear advantage at the scrums, where the home team’s new front row recruit from Jersey, Cameron Holenstein, showed up very prominently.
The hosts stretched their lead by three points three minutes into the second half, with White kicking a good goal after Stortford were penalised at a breakdown.
The visitors then embarked on an extended period of attack, spending several minutes in the OEs 22 but, despite three five-metre lineouts, wave after wave of individual forward drives and one threatening grubber kick and chase from Rob Duff, they were unable to make the crucial breakthrough as conditions got worse and worse.
Dan Elsom, prominent throughout for Stortford, came closest to scoring, actually touching down from a five-metre lineout, but the try was ruled out for a previous knock-on.
Even when Holenstein was yellow-carded for coming in at the side of a threatening driving maul, the home pack maintained dominance at the scrums. This provided them with a couple of easy escapes from their own territory, eventually getting down into Stortford’s red zone thanks to a penalty to touch.
Stortford managed to turn the lineout ball over but, in attempting to run the ball out, threw a poor speculative long pass that fell into space, allowing an OEs back to swoop on the loose ball and centre James Golledge was able to dash over for a try close to the posts with 15 minutes left. White duly converted to stretch the lead to 14 points.
Although the visitors battled to the end in the quest for a converted try and the losing bonus point, which their non-stop endeavour probably deserved against a superior OEs side, they failed to find the elusive cutting edge that was needed.
Stortford host Rosslyn Park this Saturday (3pm).