There were convincing English Clubs Championship wins for Midlands Division One rivals Borough and Oundle this afternoon (February 9).
Borough tamed Rugby Lions 36-17 at Fengate while Oundle were 44-26 winners over Wellingborough at Occupation Road.
For Borough it was a 12th win in 13 games and the result was never really in any doubt. The Lions had some big, strong boys who could run hard but Borough again defended heroically and in player/coach Sam Crooks and number eight Zak McClure had the game’s two outstanding players who made a massive contribution to the cause.
McClure scored a hat-trick of tries while second row Crooks scored one and had a hand in three others.
It was the visitors who crossed first, however, taking the lead with a penalty try on three minutes after a huge punt upfield was misfielded by Borough at the back.
With quarter-of-an-hour gone Borough were back on level terms as McClure barged over from a scrum five metres out after some tasty work by Crooks. Matt Newman converted to make it 7-7.
Both sides struggled to keep possession as passes continually went astray in the difficult, windy conditions and play became very scrappy. And with Rugby suffering a lot of injuries as well it was very much a stop-start affair.
Borough hit the front with a second try by McClure after Crooks won a lineout and Ross Chamberlain made a cheeky little break, but Rubgy hit back straight from the restart after some poor Borough tackling.
A fantastic run by Borough centre Ryan Morris, who weaved his way past six Rugby players in a 30-yard dash, paved the way for Borough’s third try just before half-time. Fittingly Morris was on hand to take the scoring pass when the ball was recycled.
The second half was much better for Borough. They took total control of the set pieces, with Crooks ruling the lineouts, and they cut out the errors in their back play.
That led to three more tries for a 36-12 lead after 66 minutes.
Dewi Pearce got the first after a Crooks break and a delicate chip into space by Newman, Crooks got the second when finishing off a move started by Mooki Tshepo-Olebile, and then McClure raced in from the halfway line to complete his hat-trick and conclude Borough’s scoring. Newman added two more conversions.
Rugby crossed for a consolation try on the final whistle.
Borough: Nick Langton, Tom Stuffins, Ryan Morris, George Offer, Mooki Tshepo-Olebile, Matt Newman, Ross Chamberlain, Dan O’Connell, Jamie Dingle, Stuart Day, Josh Myles, Sam Crooks, Dewi Pearce, Scott Mills, Zak McClure. Subs: Sam Cowell, Owain Pearce, Rob Mould.
Oundle came from 7-0 and 14-5 down to beat Wellingborough and their try-scorers were Robb Shingles, Louie Davies, Grant Snelling, Josh Cutteridge (2), Alex Efford, Simon Andrew and Toby Snelling. Garethr Smithson kicked two conversions.
Oundle and Borough remain third and fourth in the table respectively.