Staffordshire welcomed local rivals Warwickshire to Lilleshall Road on a very damp Sunday lunchtime. Warwickshire arrived early and were soon out on the pitch checking the conditions. The warm-up was a very wet affair as the heavy showers doused the players and the pitch turning the surface into a very slippery one ahead of the game.
As the spectators braved the weather to line both sides of the pitch the teams came out and thankfully the rain abated. The refereeing team from NLD got the game underway with the hosts kicking off into a slight crosswind deep into the visitor’s half. An early penalty against staffs saw Warwickshire clear their lines early and the stage was set. Both teams showed strong early carries met with strong defence for the next few minutes with little breakthrough from either side. Then, following a scrum on the hosts 10m line, centre Sam Clarke found a gap, stepped and took a diagonal line to outsprint the defence and score in the right-hand corner. Fly half Ollie Rowbery added the extras.
From there Staffordshire continued to dominate the play with the visiting side having to defend for much of the next 10 minutes. On the 15-minute mark Warwickshire were penalised and received a yellow card in their 22 for not releasing. The hosts kicked to the corner for the line out. From the catch and drive Tom Gibson broke down the right side of the maul and popped the ball to hooker Ben Clay who crashed over in the corner, Rowbery again adding the conversion.
The home side spent much of the 2nd quarter in the Warwickshire half and the red and whites were finding it difficult to retain any ball to play with. The next try came from a Staffordshire scrum 10m from the visitor’s line after a prolonged period of pressure. Number 8 Tom Gibson picked up the ball and broke right, the ball recycled for two quick phases before Will Bailey switched the play left and quick hands saw Tobe Okolo unmarked on the left wing to dive in at the corner. The conversion drifted wide.
Warwickshire were struggling to get a foothold in the game and another catch and drive from the line out saw the home pack go over the try line with Rhys Williams emerging with the ball for the try. Rowbery once again added the conversion.
The visitors then began to claw their way back into the game with some basic errors by the home side and far too many penalties Warwickshire started to dominate field position and possession. Spending much of the last 10 minutes of the first period in Staffordshire’s half of the pitch and following a yellow card for Staffs centre Ben Ashmore they finally, on the stroke of half-time, kicked a penalty to the corner. Then followed some great pick and go work from the forwards who were patient until they finally got themselves over the line. The conversion drifted wide. Half Time Staffordshire 26 Warwickshire 5
Warwickshire made several changes at half time to freshen up their side and it certainly appeared to have the desired effect as they dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half. Staffs Winger Tobe Okolo was struggling with his hamstring so was replaced by Bob Clews on 45 minutes.
The visitors were first to strike in the second half when after Prop Edgar Brown received a yellow card for hands in the ruck they kicked to the corner. Staffordshire were caught napping, and the ball was caught cleanly by the Warwickshire 2nd Row who powered over the line unchallenged. The conversion was good bringing Warwickshire up to 12 points.
Cameron Maughan replaced Danny griffin and Joe Murfin came on for Joel Finnemore on the wing around the 70th minute with Hooker Ben Clay replaced by Alex Macdonald shortly after and Tom Coton moving to hooker.
Staffs closed the game out on the 73rd minute after the Warwickshire winger was bundled into touch in his own 22, they took the lineout and set up a catch and drive which saw Prop Rhys Williams claim his second try of the game and Ollie Rowbery his 4th Conversion.
The last 7 minutes saw the remainder of the bench rolled. On came Davison, Hayes and Milan and off went Gibson, Shacklock and Bailey but neither side could breach the others defence and the game ended without further score. Full Time – Staffordshire 33 Warwickshire 12.
Tries; Clarke, Clay, Okolo and Williams (2) Conversions; Rowbery (4)
1 Edgar Brown Burton RFC
2 Ben Clay Burton RFC
3 Rhys Williams Burton RFC
4 Joseph Shacklock Burton RFC
5 Callum Oakden Sandbach RFC
6 Danny Griffin Burton RFC
7 Tom Coton Lichfield RFC
8 Tom Gibson Stoke RFC
9 Will Bailey Newcastle RFC
10 Oliver Rowbery Wolverhampton RFC
11 Tobe Okolo Newcastle RFC
12 Samuel Clarke Stoke RFC
13 Ben Ashmore Lichfield RFC
14 Joel Finnemore Lichfield RFC
15 Alexander Goodyear Newcastle RFC
16 Gregor Hayes Uttoxeter RFC
17 Alexander Macdonald Newcastle RFC
18 Cameron Maughan Burton RFC
19 Anton Davidson Burton RFC
20 James Milan Stafford RFC
21 Joesph Murfin Newcastle RFC
22 Bob Clews Crewe and Nantwich RFC
TR Ollie Platt Stafford RFC
21 Jay Haydock Trentham RFC