Match report: Stone RUFC v Walsall
After a prolonged delay to the start of the season the first competitive game of the season saw five players make their competitive debuts for the club and the new blood provided a flourish of pace which would cause Walsall problems all day.The 10-12-13 combination of Conor Norton, Daryl Fox and Chris Hinchcliffe combined well time and again to break the defensive line and after extensive pressure and great continuity Stone would take the first points with Hinchcliffe taking the first of three tries.
The lead was quickly doubled when excellent passing from the Stone backs saw winger Alex Freeman released on his wing to run a 60m try in. Walsall remained composed and began to exert control over the set pieces which lead to the visitors bringing the game back to 14-5, but an excellent break by scrum half Ben Clayton from the base of a ruck from within his own half saw the score quickly extended to 21-5. Walsall would strike again before half time to make the score 21-12 going into half time.
With the first score being vital Stone once again benefited from excellent continuity, with the ball being recycled through a number of rucks to once again reach Hinchcliffe to stride away for a second try on the day. Walsall would be quick to reply however, with another try being conceded with 90 seconds of the kick off to make it 28-17.
The game then entered a scrappy period with both teams being reduced to 14 players after a scuffle saw a man from both sides sent to the sin bin. The period saw a great defensive effort from Rugby League Sam Vivers who was a constant thorn to Walsall throughout the day with fully committed tackling. This, along with some good turnovers saw the 10 minute period pass without any change to the score. With the full compliment back on Stone once again resumed normal service with Alex Freeman scoring his second try.
The final quarter of the match saw Stone play more freely as the win became more likely. Ben Clayton again made some excellent runs from the scrum half position and from this front position the recycling of the ball saw Chris Hinchcliffe pick up his hat trick. Walsall pressed hard for a consolation try with 5 minutes to go and were rightly rewarded following a scrum turnover on the Stone 5m to finish the game 38-22.
The Enson Lane boys return to action next Saturday against Newcastle 3XV at Enson Lane with a 3pm KO.