Solihull staged a brilliant second half comeback yesterday to beat Stowe 25-22 after the home side had led 22-6 at half time.
Having only amassed a penalty and a drop goal in a first half that Stowe dominated, three unanswered tries saw Solihull turn the game around in magnificent style to claim their fourth victory of the season.
It was heartbreaking for Stowe who had started the game so well, piling on the pressure immediately to score an early try, before an absolute peach from new recruit Rotimi Segun put them 17-3 up after about half an hour.
In that first half the Stowe backs were on fire, their slick handling and intelligent running lines were causing Solihull problems at all times, whilst their forward pack was securing ball expertly.
All signs pointed for a return to winning ways for Stowe, the Buckinghamshire side had won the pre season Tynedale Schools Festival and had been expected to kick on from there and dominate this season, however two defeats in their opening three games had caused a few to revise those opinions.
Signs of a return to their Tynedale form appeared to have been confirmed when a few minutes before half time some slick handling and a searing break down the left wing saw their tight head stroll in to give them a 22-6 half time lead.
In all honesty Solihull had looked down and out, they too had tried to play with some adventure but a few handling errors and some terrific line speed from Stowe had blocked any real progress. It was clear though that at half time Solihull had a bit of a tactical rethink â€“ they were going to use their fly halfâ€™s brilliant kicking game to gain territory before using their forward pack tight to the set piece and breakdown to gain momentum, only then flashing the ball wide to their pacey outside backs.
The tactic was to pay dividends almost immediately; a penalty on half way was boomed down for a lineout deep in the Stowe 22 before a driving maul and a succession of short rucks provided enough space for one of their forwards to power over.
With the conversion over the deficit was now nine points and cries of â€˜we can do thisâ€™ filled the ears of the away side. Suddenly, having been almost down and out, the momentum had turned.
The kicking game of Solihullâ€™s fly half had transformed the game and with another booming kick he left Stowe with a lineout on their own five metre line, under immense pressure.
The Stowe lineout wobbled, giving Solihull a scrum on the five metre line, again they looked to employ the tactic of hitting their forwards short before flashing it wide. This worked to great effect, the forwards kept the Stowe defence in tight before in a flash the ball was moved wide before the outside centre received it, cutting back hard against the grain to barge under the posts, leaving Stowe with just a two point cushion after the conversion was added.
It was to be from another solid piece of scrummaging that Solihull were to score the winning points; with the scrum set just shy of the Stowe 22 and with a big blind side it was a perfect attacking opportunity.
A slight right wheel gave the number eight, who had been promoted from the 2nd XV halfway through the game due to injuries, the perfect platform to pick up and commit defenders. He drew both the back row and the scrum half before feeding his own scrum half to perfectly executed the resulting two on one to give his winger a run into the corner.
A tough conversion was narrowly missed but it did not matter to Solihull, they now led, remarkably, 25-22. To make matters worse for Stowe their excellent fly half had been injured and so they had to complete the final ten minutes of the game with a completely reshuffled backline.
What an intense final ten minutes it was though, as our video of the closing stages shows, Stowe threatened the Solihull line before some excellent kicking saw Solihull camp in the Stowe 22.
Stowe battled their way to a succession of penalties, however aware that time was up they knew they had to try to run them from their own 22 â€“ a tough ask for any side, and eventually they just could not make the vital break that they needed.
It was a fantastic game to watch though, a heartbreaking one for Stowe, and a comeback that will live long in the memory of these Solihull players. It will certainly live long in the memory of this reporter.
Final Score: Stowe 22-25 Solihull