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Bishop's Stortford slip to second from bottom in National League 1 after losing 31-20 at home to Caldy

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Bishop's Stortford showed unusual defensive frailty against an aggressive Caldy side as they went down 31-20 at Silver Leys on Saturday (Dec 4).

Stortford, who have slipped to second from bottom in National League 1, started slowly and the visitors were 14 points up within 10 minutes.

Although the away side probed right across the pitch, it was far too easy for them to find holes in Stortford's normally solid defence, resulting in tries to centre Lucas Titherington and prop Nathan Rushton, both converted by Ben Jones.

The hosts managed to reply quickly with three points from the reliable boot of Tom Walker after pressure on the restart kick forced a penalty.

The relief was relatively short-lived, with visiting skipper Josiah Dickinson adding a third converted try on 20 minutes following a scrum penalty against Stortford. The home pack held out a driving maul from the resulting lineout, but the outside defence was not as strong and the No 8 took full advantage, with Jones again converting.

At this stage Stortford were staring down the barrel of a crushing defeat, but they dug in and finally found some teeth in the last 10 minutes of the half, forcing a number of defensive penalties from Caldy.

The home pack stepped up to the plate and good lineout drills and driving mauls brought two tries for hooker Alex Rayment on 30 and 39 minutes.

Walker converted the first brilliantly from the touchline, but couldn't quite repeat the feat for the second. Nevertheless, Stortford, despite having been under the cosh for most of the half, were back within striking distance.

Stortford started the second period strongly and had the better of the early exchanges, but they were unable to break down a solid Caldy defence.

As both scrum and lineout came under pressure, the visitors once again took control and their bonus-point try was scored after 58 minutes by centre Michael Barlow, having piled in at the back of a driving maul from a five-metre lineout.

Rory Banks collects the man-of-the-match award from sponsors Westbury. Picture: @BSRUGBY on Twitter (53521009)
Rory Banks collects the man-of-the-match award from sponsors Westbury. Picture: @BSRUGBY on Twitter (53521009)

Despite missing an easy penalty shot at goal a few minutes later, the visitors moved out of sight with a fifth try after 74 minutes from yet another five-metre lineout. This time the visitors cleverly used the threat of their powerful driving maul as a dummy and quick ball allowed hooker Oliver Hearn to run in untouched out wide.

Stortford showed typical character by fighting their way back into opposition territory and were rewarded with a consolation try at the death for Chris Smith. Walker's conversion attempt into the wind from out wide fell just short, leaving a final deficit of only 11 points.

Rory Banks picked up the man-of-the-match award from sponsors Westbury Garden Rooms for his non-stop efforts in the losing cause.

Stortford: Walker, Powell, Stannard, J Ayrton, Smith, Cole, Bryan; Brownhill, Rayment, McCrone, Charter, Lewis, Knight, Wrafter, R Banks. Replacements: King, Harrison-Price, Apperley, T Banks, Cullen.

Caldy: Gourlay, Cartmill, Titherington, Barlow, B Jones, Hinchliffe, Murray; Aigbokhae, Hearn, Rushton, S Dickinson, Sanders, Ridgway, J Dickinson. Replacements: Joe Sanders, Clarke, D Jones, Jack Sanders, Wyman.

Scorers: Stortford - Tries: Rayment 31min, 39, Smith 79; Cons: Walker 32; Pens: Walker 11. Caldy - Tries: Titherington 5, Rushton 8, J Dickinson 20, Barlow 58, Hearn 74; Cons: B Jones B 6, 9, 21.

Referee: Simon Bourne.

Stortford man of the match: Rory Banks.

Attendance: 300.

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