Second Half Comeback Stuns Stortford
DMP take maximum points from a high-scoring game at the Northern Echo Arena
In a very entertaining contest, DMPRFC ultimately emerged victorious against a very dogged Bishop Stortford RFC side, visiting the Northern Echo Arena for the very first time.
Back in late November 2017, Bishop's Stortford RFC were perhaps unlucky not to register a victory at their HQ when, after a strong second half comeback, the last kick of the game narrowly drifted wide, the mach ending in a 22 - 22 draw.
The same applied to this game in certain respects, although roles were reversed, this time with DMPRFC producing a fine second half comeback to win the game 41 - 35, from being 17 - 28 down at oranges.
DMPRFC got off to a fast start, stunning the visitors, when early pressure was exerted and home scrum half Maia Gibbs was on hand to score the first points of the game, crossing the try line after only 2 minutes of play. (5 - 0) Garry Law converted (7 - 0) on what was a good day for him with the boot, hitting 5 conversions and 2 penalties in all for 16 points of his own.
It was LAW who added a penalty less than 3 minutes later (10 - 0), as the visitors interfered at ruck time.
DMPRFC threatened to run away with the game at this early stage, but the visitors had other ideas and a mistake in the home defence saw them take advantage, with scrum half Thomas Banks scoring his sides first points (10 - 5), with fly half George Cullen adding the extras. (10 - 7)
Within two minutes, Bishop's Stortford RFC were ahead from broken play, when centre Matthew Riddington weaved his way to the line for the score (10 - 12), again Cullen successful with the conversion (10 - 14).
DMPRFC thought they'd stemmed the tide, inter-passing within 5-metres of the visitors try line, when the ball was intercepted by visitors left wing Ryan Hutler, who ran almost the whole length of the field to score under the posts (10 - 19), Cullen converting (10 - 21).
DMPRFC endeavoured to get back into the game, but butchered a couple of try scoring opportunities, with the last pass not finding the mark, before wing Shaun McCartney did register in the corner (15 - 21), LAW converting. (17 - 21)
There was still time for the visitors to underline their hard-working first half display, when a chip over a flat home defence was gathered by fly half Cullen who evaded scrambling defenders to score between the posts (17 - 26), converting his own try (17 - 28) to give Bishop Stortford RFC a deserved lead going into the break.
DMPRFC came out of the dressing room with power and purpose and took the game to the visitors from the restart and within four minutes had redressed the arrears, when after a break from fly half Jack Blakeney-Edwards and a timely pass to Maia Gibbs found the gap to the try-line for the scrum half to register his brace (22 - 28), again converted by LAW. (24 - 28)
LAW added another sweetly struck penalty (27 - 28), before mercurial wing Chris McTurk found himself competing for the ball in the air, over the try line, which BLAKENEY-EDWARDS had speculatively boomed into the heights over the Arena. Both McTURK and a couple of visiting defenders collided in mid air, but it was McTURK who recovered quickest to dab the ball down and after a short pause for a referee and assistant conference, the try was registered (32 - 28) to put the home side in front, the conversion from LAW (34 - 28) extending DMPRFC's lead.
At this stage, the game was firmly in the grip of the home side as they edged in front, but Bishop's Stortford were still battling hard.
DMPRFC underlined their second half superiority when a dart down the wing from home full back Grant Connon brought rewards, with him outstripping the visitors defence for the score (39 - 28) with LAW converting. (41 - 28)
Not to be outdone, Bishop's Stortford had the last word with a consolation but deserved final try from replacement Sebastian Brownhill (41 - 33), converted by Cullen (41 - 35) and adding an extra losing bonus point, as the game concluded.
After the game, Bishop's Stortford’s Head Coach Andy Long praised his side saying: "I am delighted with the points and how we played. We knew it would be a tough game coming here and I thought we had an excellent first half, but I told the players at the break that they would come back at us and they did. Credit to them, they are a good side. We have taken 2 points and have played well, as we have done against the top sides in our first season in this league."
His opposite number, Director of Rugby Danny Brown similarly praised his sides second half comeback saying: "It was a great game with plenty of action. Bishop's Stortford were tough to play against in broken play, but we knew in the second half our structure needed to improve and it did. The team are strong at home and to come back against a strong and determined side like they were shows that we are determined to see out the season and remain in second spot."