Regional 1 Midlands Round 19: Derby 41-26 Stoke on Trent

This was arguably the best game of rugby played at Haslams Lane. It was exciting and entertaining.  For the players, it was very physical and energy-sapping.  The lineup saw the versatile Ryan Cockane move to prop, with Jack Bates as hooker.  Jake Roome returned to the centre and Mc Grath Van Wyk switched to the wing.  

With only three minutes gone Stoke’s big centre made a break and No7, Bailey, scored an unconverted try.  For Stoke, it looked like “Business as usual.”  For Derby it meant taking the game to the visitors and, two minutes later, that is what they did.  Good passing and support saw Mc Grath Van Wyk score in the corner.  Four minutes later he took a pass from Sam Tebbs and scored again in the corner for a try, which Ben Wilcock did well to convert, giving Derby a well-earned lead.  As Stoke now fought to get back, Sam Pitman dented their efforts when he soared high to steal a crucial lineout ball from their throw-in.  However, from another 5-meter lineout, Stoke’s forwards gathered the ball and drove over the Derby line for a try by hooker, York, converted by flyhalf, Shone, to level the score.  Unfazed, a Derby attack saw Josh Bingham throw a long pass to Ethan Pearson.  This beat the Stoke blitz defence and he cut through for a try converted by Ben Wilcock.  In the run-up to the interval, Stoke launched a series of attacks which were thwarted by great Derby defence tackles.  They were spurred on by a chorus of “Yeahs” at every hit they made from the supporters behind the posts at the Haslams Lane end.  This was a decisive period for Derby as they went into the break leading by 19 points to 12.

Both sides wanted a good restart, but it was Derby’s backs who got the ball out to Van Wyk on the wing.  Somehow, he got the ball back inside to the ever-supporting Sam Tebbs.  His long strides took him over in the corner for an unconverted try.  Stoke struck back with another forward drive over the line.  This time it was prop, Dodd who scored the try converted by Shone.  Next, it was Derby’s turn as their forwards pressed hard.  The pressure ended when Sam Tebbs dived over the line for Wilcock to convert.  

Josh Bingham went off with an ankle niggle and Ben Wilcock moved to flyhalf and Van Wyk switched to fullback.  His place on the wing was taken by Cameron Finlay.  David Cowell came on for Ryan Cockane and young Josh Roberts replaced Nathan Bevan-Smith.  In the centre Roome and Pearson were contributing much as they combined together to test the Stoke defence.

Though Finlay did not get a run he made two very quick consecutive tackles to deny Stoke a scoring chance.  A break by Wilcock set up Lewis Hancock to force his way through tackles for a try.  Just minutes later, prop, Simon Moon made a break and was on hand to score an important try.

It was a truly great team effort, but Sam Tebbs was on fire as he and Joe Acton combined well under pressure.  Captain, Charlie Barker said that Derby’s defence was the key factor, but that some errors needed attention.

It looked the “Real mc Coy” to me.

Report by: Gerry Sherry 

There is no game next week before Derby travel to Kenilworth the following Saturday.

Photos by: Shaun Hardwick, full gallery here