Stockwood Park inflict derby defeat on Dunstablians

Eric Butler of Stockwood Park
Eric Butler of Stockwood Park

Stockwood Park inflicted a 29-22 derby defeat on Dunstablians when they met in the league on Saturday.

Park secured their bonus-point win in Midlands 3 East (South) through tries from James Hankey (2), Martin Rowe and Alex Lovell. Jason Carr kicked three out four conversion attempts, and a penalty.

Jason Carr, who kicked three conversions and penalty, said: “We needed to work on our line outs and scrums following last week’s game, and we did well in our set-piece organisation so we’re pleased about that.”

This was the first time the pair had met since Park beat Dees 37-22 in the Bedfordshire Cup Final, back in April.

Dees were stronger in the opening stages and Pete Thompson’s cultured right-boot scored a drop-goal from distance.

Stockwood levelled with a penalty kick and added their first try soon after. They worked the ball across the pitch, before using a nice dummy to exploit the space and breakthrough to score, converted by Carr.

The Bidwell Boys responded through Campbell Haig, who made an impressive solo run to secure his side’s first try. Dees were awarded a penalty deep in the opposing half, quickly taken by covering scrum-half Thompson.

The ball was spread to Haig, who used a clever sidestep to fool the defenders, before fending off the final man and cross the whitewash.

The visitors piled on the pressure and restricted Dees to their own half for long periods. But the attempt to get the ball to Mattie Anderson on the wing failed, as the Stockwood centre intercepted the pass and ran through to score a converted try,.

Stockwood smelt blood and managed to add a third try before the interval. They continued to push forward but struggled to find space, as Dees defended doggedly.

They muscled their way over the line, and converted, meaning the away side headed into half-time comfortably ahead, 24-8.

The hosts had the lion’s share of possession in the early stages of the second half and their constant pressure forced Stockwood into committing mistakes.

After conceding a scrum, the Dees pack drove forward and the ball was presented to Thompson, who worked the ball inside to the prolific centre Luke Ashton. He showed tidy footwork to dart his way past the Stockwood defenders and over for his third try of the season. Thompson converted, closing the deficit to nine points.

Dunstable had momentum but they conceded a penalty for not releasing, which Stockwood sent into touch.

The away-side tried to utilise the catch-and-drive routine but play was brought back for a penalty. It was taken quickly by the Park scrum-half, who had a clear run through a disorganised Dees defence. The conversion was missed, extending their lead to 29-15.

The home-side put everything into the final ten minutes. After being awarded a penalty, which Thompson nudged into the corner, Dees looked to catch-and-drive.

An infringement by a Stockwood player led to another penalty, with the guilty player sin-binned. Thompson tapped the penalty and setup fly-half Kevin Boland, who lured-in the defenders and used a clever pass to put Haig in for his second. The conversion closed the gap to 29-22.

Despite their best efforts, Dees failed to find a way past a resilient Stockwood defence.

Eric Butler was excellent at Number 8 for Stockwood – he carried well, defended when needed, and was solid in the tackle.

Outside-centre Haig was the star performer for Dees. He proved a creative spark in a team that looked more dangerous each time he was on the ball.

Park captain Jamie Hoque said “It was a well fought and well deserved win the end, despite making hard work of it.

“Dunstable were always going to be a tough opposition and the occasion was heightened with the obvious local rivalry and pride at stake.

“The team know that we still have a lot to work on but ultimately it was a relief to finally get a W under our belt and the bonus point and result away from home at Dunstable makes the victory taste just that little bit sweeter.”