Haileybury made the long trip to Stamford missing several key players. The home side’s formidable home record made it an even more difficult assignment.
Haileybury needed a fast start and they made it with open side flanker Josh Stibbs scoring arguably the quickest try ever. The visitors kicked off and Stamford failed to gather the ball bounced up and Stibbs proceeded to beat 3 men to cross out wide.
Haileybury continued in the same fashion in the first twenty minutes. They were accurate and powerful with Jamie Hoyes to the fore making several powerful carries into the heart of the Stamford defence.
Stibbs got his second from a driving maul, Dawes adding the extras. The versatile Dawes who played out of position at 9, threw the ball into the line-out and kicked the goals was pulling the strings masterfully alongside his half back partner Sam Cappaert.
Dawes added two further penalties to give Haileybury an extraordinary 18-0 lead. The away side had been playing down the slope and with the wind so needed to hang onto the eighteen point margin. Stamford were fighting hard to get back into the game and the visitors weren’t helped by losing the pivotal Cappaert, while Stibbs was unfortunate to be sin-binned, all of which served to give Stamford the boost they needed as they scored a try out wide despite some brave defence.
Haileybury were pressing hard just before half time but a loose pass which Stamford pounced on led to a try just before half time which proved crucial. 18-14 at half time probably flattered the home team.
The hosts knowledge of the pitch and conditions helped them to pin Haileybury back and continuing with the momentum they had generated at the end of the first period Stamford scored again through some typically strong forward play.
They had started finding gaps in the visitors defence around the fringes. The Stamford kicker had a good day converting again and adding a penalty shortly afterwards, leaving the score at 24-18 to Stamford with fifteen minutes left on the clock.
Haileybury kept plugging away but were finding it difficult to gain a foothold in the Stamford half. Some superb team play led to Haileybury being in the home side’s 22 and from a Stamford scrum Kyle Douglas scored a fine try to get Haileybury back into the game at 24-23.
Unfortunately for the away side, Dawes couldn’t get the conversion. The game was being played at a frantic pace and Stamford were superb at the breakdown committing numbers and playing right on the edge of the laws making it hard for the visitors to create chances.
However, this is a brave Haileybury side and they gave themselves a great chance of winning the game with concerted attacks and some high quality play that led to a great chance.
Some outstanding defence by the Stamford 13 prevented Haileybury being able to exploit the space out wide snuffing out the attack and allowing the hosts to clear their lines and probably win the match. Stamford failed with a penalty attempt but managed to cross for a match winning try and conversion to take the spoils 31-23 in what was a superb match.
Man of the match for Haileybury was captain Charlie Harrington who was everywhere. He carried strongly throughout and led the defensive effort. Will McKenna, Iwan Dawes and Jamie Hoyes also deserve a mention for their excellent performances.
Haileybury can be proud of their performance but will come away a little disappointed not to have puled off what would have been a famous victory, while Stamford will be thrilled to have secured the win from a tough encounter, and to show that despite losing that proud unbeaten home run, they are still a hugely formidable outfit.
Full Time: Stamford 31-23 Haileybury