Stoneygate race past the half century mark in victory

Stoneygate take on Hinckley 3rds. Photo: Alan Walters EMN-151221-094832001
Stoneygate take on Hinckley 3rds. Photo: Alan Walters EMN-151221-094832001

There was no rust on Stoneygate after a four week break for the Christmas as they thrashed visiting Coalville 2nds 55-7 in the Leicestershire Merit League B on Saturday.

After a close encounter on the first day of the season in which Gate came out 29-24 winners, a close match was anticipated however Coalville were unable to field a competitive front row, so the match was declared a home walk-over with uncontested scrums from the start.

After some impressive work from the Uppingham Community College ground staff to produce an excellent playing surface despite all the rain throughout December and early January, Stoneygate got off to a blistering start.

After a short period of Coalville possession from the kick-off a fumbled pass found its way in to the hands of Alex Vostanis on his own 10 metre line who weaved his way past three Coalville players to score under the posts. An excellent start for the flanker who was filling in on the wing for the day.

Only 10 minutes later, Gate scored their second try in very similar circumstances to the first. This time it was Will Cropper who benefited from the Coalville mistake to gather the ball and cross the try line, from shorter range on this occasion.

The third try for the home team was a moment of individual brilliance by fly-half Jack Clark. The slinky stand-off, stood in centre-field with little obvious route to points, but a chip kick over the on-coming defence towards the corner opened things up, and as Clark put on the gas he glided past what seemed like half the Coalville team and won the race to the line to gather his own kick and dot down for five points.

Coalville managed to reduce the arrears by seven, with a try of their own through some strong forwards play. Multiple phases of pick and go, coupled with Stoneygate conceding a penalty helped Coalville towards the line. Pressure paid off as they crossed for the points and converted the kick to make the score 19-7 to the home side.

With the half-time looming, Gate managed to put the game beyond doubt with two excellent tries before the break. Both tries very similarly worked backs moves which started after the Stoneygate forwards set up great platforms from which to attack. On both occasions, Ben Aspell was the key to the attack. For the first try Aspell cut an excellent line through the away defence, drawing the full-back and put in winger Steve Farrow to score. For the second, Aspell again ran an excellent line, this time he went in himself under the posts to score. The second try coming from a pint point pass by fly-half Clark. Gate closed the first-half 31-7.

The second-half saw a points drought for the first 15 minutes, both teams making mistakes and the game was losing its structure. The deadlock was broken when Jack Clark put in a cross field kick to Luke Sturgess out on the wing, Sturgess drew the defenders and put Mike O’Keeffe through to score. As the match wore on, discipline from both sides became an issue and in a short period the referee issued three yellow cards, one of which was for a Coalville player striking an opponent. After a strict word with both captains, the teams found their heads and no further action was taken.

With the result of the match in no doubt, Stoneygate further added to their lead, second tries of the match for both Vostanis and O’Keeffe stretched the Gate lead to 48-7. However the icing on the cake came with the last move of the match. Prop on the day, Phil Beech received a pass in midfield on the edge of the Coalville 22. Beech decided rather than to ship the ball out wide, to pin his ears back and charge through the defence, with only the full-back to beat, Beech used some nifty footwork to step the on-coming defender and cross the line for five points. Aspell converted and Gate ran out 55-7 winners. The final try getting the biggest cheer on the day from the home supporters.

Stoneygate travel to Leicester Vipers next Saturday as they continuetheir league campaign.