Stortford up to sixth after late try steals success at Moseley
Birmingham Moseley 25 Bishop's Stortford 27, National League 1
A late try from scrum-half Alex Patton gave Bishop’s Stortford a superb bonus-point win at Moseley to put them in the top six in their debut National League 1 campaign.
The victory made it three wins out of four on the road for the Silver Leys club – their only defeat on their travels has come at leaders Coventry, whose eight wins from eight put them on 39 points, six clear of Plymouth Albion (33) and 14 ahead of Stortford (25).
Playing with the gale at their backs, Stortford turned over early possession and Moseley’s powerful forwards seized on the opportunity to drive at the visitors’ line and force a penalty after 4 minutes, producing a three-point lead for the home side.
This advantage was soon cancelled out, with Stortford pressurising the Moseley defence into conceding a penalty for a high tackle, which George Cullen coolly slotted over.
Stortford took increasing control over possession and territory, spurning the opportunity to kick for territory and keeping the ball in hand. This confidence was rewarded after 14 minutes when a tremendous break up the middle by James Apperley took his side into the home 22, where captain Sam Winter was at hand to take an inside pass, spin out of a tackle and crash over for a try near the posts, which Cullen duly converted for a 10-3 lead.
It was now Moseley’s turn to enjoy a period of dominance and, with their strong forwards in the vanguard, led forcefully by captain Buster Lawrence, it took some tremendous Stortford defence to keep their line intact. Eventually, though, the pressure told and a second penalty after 38 minutes narrowed Stortford’s lead to four points.
Back on the front foot from the restart, Stortford went through multiple phases, but the home defence looked solid until Cullen drew a couple of defenders out of position with a show and go to make a half break and lightning support from his forwards saw prop Will Roberts forcing his way over close to the posts for a converted try.
This took his side into the break with a 17-6 lead, a far from comfortable margin with the second half to play into the wind.
In fact, the second period could not have started better for the visitors, with Johnny Neville making a great clean take from Cullen’s restart kick and four or five phases of quick handling later, winger Chris Smith was able to crash through a despairing tackle in the corner for an unconverted try to put Stortford 22-6 ahead.
Things quickly turned in Moseley’s favour, however, as Stortford were penalised at an attacking scrum and Roberts was binned for questioning the decision. The home side smashed the penalty into Stortford’s 22 and a further penalty at the maul from the resultant lineout was taken quickly and two passes saw the home side in for a converted try (22-13).
With their tails now up, Moseley drove Stortford’s 14 men back into their own 22 with a tremendous kick and, quickly forcing a turnover, were able to power over for an unconverted try and a scoreline of 18-22.
Moseley now appeared to have the upper hand and another good positional kick put them back deep into Stortford territory. Eventually a knock-on under pressure gave Moseley a 5m scrum and two passes were all that were needed for them to touch down under the posts, the conversion taking them into a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Undaunted by the battering they had been taking, Stortford fought their way back, enjoying a brief period of sustained pressure of their own, which ended with Patton darting his way over down the blindside of a driving maul to touch down in the corner. This left Stortford two points ahead with some five minutes on the clock.
With Moseley’s powerful forwards once more to the fore, it took some outstanding backs-to-the wall defending from the visitors on their own line to hold out.
A knock-on was eventually forced, at which point the referee blew the final whistle to signal another remarkable win for the National 1 new boys of Stortford.
Bishop’s Stortford: Hankin, Smith, Winter (c), Neville, Rea, Cullen, Patton; Young, Caulfield, McCrone, George, Tomlinson, Apperley, Banks, Leo. Replacements: Roberts, Jones, Austin, Edwards, Riddington.