Midlands West 1

Whitchurch 34

Stoke-on-Trent 27

Coach Scott Sturdy praised Whitchurch’s attacking enterprise after cementing fourth spot in the Midlands 1 West with victory over Stoke-on-Trent at Edgeley Park.

The Reds again showed their credentials with ball in hand to run in six tries in another bonus point victory, and have now won six of their nine outings in a highly-satisfying return to the division this season.

They have no game on Saturday, before resuming duties the following week with another important game at Stourbridge Lions who lie one place and two points below.

“It was a great attacking performance, and some of the tries we scored were outstanding,” said Sturdy.

“We scored six tries to Stoke’s three, and they got their third try with the last play of the game which made the final score closer.

“At 20-20 it was tight, but the lads showed a lot of character and togetherness to respond the way they did.

“The one disappointment was from a defensive point of view, and it was frustrating that we gave away a lot of penalties

“But we were pleased to get another five points, and that’s now six wins from nine.

“Stoke are one of the best attacking sides we’ve played. They like to move the ball quickly and play a nice brand of rugby, and deserved to get something out of the game.”

The Reds now have a weekend off before heading to Sutton Coldfield the following week, but Sturdy is expecting his side to find improvement with key players returning.

“There are positive signs but still a lot of work to do,” added Sturdy. “We maybe could have won one or two more games, but we’ll take six wins with a third of the season gone.

“The break will give us a chance to get over a few knocks, niggles and bruises, before we go again the following week.

“We’ve now got a lot of players coming back, but we are going to need them with the run of games we’ve got.”

Among those returning in the next few weeks is centre and last season’s leading try scorer Henry Hockenhull, who will add to the options in the back line.

After weathering early Stoke pressure, Whitchurch broke the shackles with a stunning try when launching a swift attack from a scrum on their own 22 which was eventually finished off by outside centre Luca Owen-Youens.

Scrum half Joe Mullock, who had a big hand in the first score, then doubled the lead with a second unconverted try, before Stoke reduced the arrears with a converted touchdown under the posts.

Fly half Tom Davies crossed for a third try, before the Staffordshire visitors kicked a couple of penalties to trim Whitchurch’s lead to 15-13 at the interval.

The hosts started the second period with plenty of intent, a string of phases ended with the impressive Owen-Youens crashing through for his second try of the game, again unconverted.

However, Stoke showed plenty of running themselves, and levelled the scores at 20-20 with a converted score to leave the the outcome in the balance.

But the Reds dug deep, showing plenty of spirit as they pushed clear again with replacement fullback Robbie Leighton marking his comeback from a lengthy knee injury with his side’s fifth try, Danny Nicholas adding the extras.

Tom Skone completed the home scoring when rounding off another excellent move from deep, Nicholas converted, before Stoke scored a third converted try.