Stow 15 Royal Wootton Bassett 8
Southern Counties North
THIS, as the scoreline suggests, was a very tight and closely fought encounter on Saturday and Stow were grateful to emerge victorious to maintain top spot.
Stow were very slow to start and just like the Marlow game two weeks prior were on the back foot and defending for the majority of the first half.
Again, it was Stow’s defence that was solid and frustrated the visitors as, even though they had the possession, they struggled to score points and began to build up a high penalty count.
The first score came when Stow tried to run out of defence and were pulled up for crossing which resulted in a converted penalty but Nick Cafearo soon cancelled this out with Stow’s first penalty of the day when Bassett slipped their binding in the scrum.
It looked like Stow were going to hold out for the first half but right on the half time whistle the visitors deservedly took the lead with an unconverted try in the corner after a bombardment of the Stow line.
Stow woke up in the second half but still were struggling to string phases together, which made the game very disjointed.
However, the referee was getting more and more frustrated with the visitors as they continued to infringe at the breakdown and it was only a matter of time until the first yellow card came out and Stow took advantage with a second Cafearo penalty for offside.
Bassett came back but Stow again held firm and then, just as they went back to 15 men, they lost another to the bin.
Cafearo then slotted two more penalties in quick succession, both for offside offences. Stow now led by seven points and, with the game coming to an end, needed to hold out.
This they did but on the final whistle a reckless bit of footwork from a Bassett forward saw a red card to add to their two yellows.
Stow had held their nerve and with it sit three points clear at the top of the table.
This was the toughest test so far this season but they know they are capable of playing much better. Stow return to action at home to second placed Thatcham on November (2.30pm).
It proved to be a very good day at Stow as the 2nd team enjoyed an emphatic 73-7 win against Bream.