Rugby: Stoke hit top form to see off Lichfield challenge
CHRISTMAS came early for Stoke as they were among the points again in a 47-7 home win over high-flying Lichfield in Midlands One West.
Sam Christmas landed no fewer than nine successful kicks to keep the scoreboard ticking over after Stoke had trailed 7-6 at one stage.
But it was 20-7 to Stoke by the break after Christmas had started piercing the posts and Chris Rowley had nipped through a gap from a scrum.
Christmas begun the second period with another penalty before Simon Price broke through from a five-metre scrum for a converted try.
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Stoke were assuming control of the contest by the time a line-out on the Lichfield 22 turned into a maul from which Pete Wilshaw touched down.
And Stoke came close to another half-century tally when the game ended with possession being won against the head for Tom Hughes to pick up and cross for a try converted by Christmas.
STAFFORD mixed aggressive attack with solid defence to win 14-12 at Bridgnorth in Midlands Two West (North).
Trailing to an early try in soaking conditions, Stafford's pack exerted its dominance to put Bridgnorth under so much pressure they eventually conceded a penalty try converted by Matty Walklate for a 7-5 interval lead.
Stafford either punched holes in the opposition defences or left its pack to drive through a faltering back line during an impressive second half.
Their pressure was rewarded when Richie Watling eventually forced the space to crash over for a second try and leave Walklate adding the conversion.
Bridgnorth did exploit a late lapse in concentration to score a converted try, but it was too late to deny Stafford.
NEWCASTLE surrendered top spot in Midlands Three West (North) after slipping to a 20-17 defeat at Burntwood.
It started well enough for the visitors when Ronan Evans went over for the game's opening score.
Burntwood hit back with a try and a penalty.
Another converted try for Burntwood left Newcastle with an uphill task they began climbing when Rich Sale, on for Ben Briggs, scored after several phases of play.
It got even better for Castle when colt Dominic Ellerton went over and Evans converted, but Burntwood held on.
And the news got worse for Newcastle after hearing Willenhall had leapfrogged them into top spot after a 30-12 win at ECCLESHALL.