Following a promising pre-season the 1st XV ventured into the unknown at home to Birstall RFC and came away with a 34–10 win.
The closest the purple, black and whites had come to playing Bristall RFC in previous years was in taking on their neighbours in north Leicester, Belgrave RFC, who were a fellow Midlands 2 league side last season before Stamford’s first relegation in 8 years.
Preparations had gone well but there was notable absences from the 18 man squad. Back row partners Dan Heard and Mike Kendall were both unavailable, Tom Dove who has returned from Australia and Rob Polson were both carrying knocks from the win at Oakham RFC the previous week and would not line up in the back three. The ever present brothers, John and Ben Murphy were both out of the running due to prior commitments and James O’Shea and Gareth Ramsden, regulars in the backline and front row respectively were both serving bans for indiscretions at the back end of last season.
In the last two years the absences would have certainly led to a weakened side that would have to stick in a see what happened on the day. Such is the early signs of transformation this season that the 18 strong squad was still as strong as you could wish for and those missing are by no means ‘shoe ins’ next week.
Stamford came out of the blocks early and off the back of a pack that dominated at set piece starved Birstall of any real possession or field position in the first half. The purple, black and whites turned around at half time, having played down the slope, 19–0 to the good. The score line didn’t really represent the dominance that Stamford had upfront and on too many occasions, possession was moved into the wider challenges too early and lack of passing accuracy and some rusty decision making meant that multiple scoring opportunities were missed.
The second half saw further progress with regard to the purple, black and whites overall game management, the pack had more time on the ball and the midfield were more direct with their running lines which left space in the wider channels for firstly Dan McFaden to race in and then Jack Jones.
Overall the performance was a pleasing one that leaves the squad with plenty to work on. The order of the day was to notch up a win. To have achieved the try bonus point as well was pleasing, scoring 6 tries overall.
Next job now, away to Bourne RFC. A newly created local derby that the squad are eager to put their mark on at Milky Nook on Saturday 14th September at 3pm.
Final score; Stamford RUFC 34 — Birstall RFC 10
Tries: Jones (2), McFaden (2), Parker, Nairn
Conversions: Burns (2)