Bishop's Stortford claimed a hard-fought 23-19 win at Chinnor as they moved up three places in National League 1
Bishop's Stortford claimed a hard-fought and well-deserved 23-19 win at Chinnor in National League 1 on Saturday (Dec 11).
The visitors ran in four tries to also earn a bonus point as they climbed three places to 11th ahead of this weekend's home game with Cambridge.
With Jack Scantlebury back and leading from the front as skipper, Stortford started much more positively and aggressively than in recent games despite having lost three players since Thursday's selection. James Thacker and Dec Caulfield were moved up from the Blues and Alex Rayment came off the bench to play at No 7.
It was the home side, nevertheless, that took the lead after seven minutes. Two breakdown offences in a row put the visitors on the back foot and a touch kick from the second penalty provided the platform for a driving maul from the lineout which Stortford couldn't stop, producing an unconverted try.
Eight minutes later and another driving maul provided a turning point when Stortford were surging forward in midfield and Chinnor's tighthead was sin-binned for pulling the maul down.
Within five minutes the visitors had taken advantage, levelling the scores with a try by Ollie Betteridge after half breaks and good offloads by Tom Banks and Scantlebury gave the centre a sight of the line.
Stortford started to assert themselves at the scrum and were rewarded with a penalty on a Chinnor put-in close to their own 22, which Tom Walker converted.
The home side fought back and, despite a couple of loose passes in midfield, a bouncing ball was picked up and hard running from full-back and wing saw a try out wide, brilliantly converted in the slippery conditions by Caolan Ryan.
Just before the break, Stortford got their noses ahead again with an unconverted try to winger Dan Powell, taking a good long pass from Dan Smart - on 10 minutes earlier for the injured Tom Banks - to break the tackle of his opposite number to crash over in the corner.
Stortford dominated the first 15 minutes of the second period in both territory and possession as the wet and slippery conditions deteriorated, but dogged Chinnor defence held strong until a crooked throw at a defensive lineout gave the visitors a scrum deep inside the home 22.
Chinnor were penalised at the scrum and again at the reset, but managed to force a handling error at the third attempt, only to concede yet another penalty on their put in. This time the visitors went to touch and a good lineout drill saw them over for another unconverted try, touched down by Harrison King from a driving maul.
Stortford maintained the pressure and, although the home side came more into the game, they scored again after 64 minutes when Joss Linney won the race to touch down a clever grubber kick from Betteridge for the bonus-point try.
Chinnor went up a gear and it took a great sliding pick-up by Smart to prevent a try from a long kick and chase.
There was no such reprieve with four minutes left when a clever chip into space - created after Stortford were reduced to 14 men by a yellow card for preventing a quick penalty being taken - brought a five-metre lineout and a mauled try, brilliantly converted from touch.
Chinnor hurled themselves forward, but Stortford's fighting spirit remained despite having a much rearranged backline due to a couple of injuries and the sin-binning as they held on.