Birmingham Moseley 34-32 Bishop’s Stortford
Aquile Smith’s second hat-trick of the fledgling season plus Ben Palmer’s immaculate display of goal-kicking edged Birmingham Moseley to a bonus point win over Bishop’s Stortford.
The winger grabbed two scores during a first half which saw the home side convert a ten-point deficit into a 21-10 interval advantage.
And he went on to register his team’s only touchdown of a second period during which the visitors crossed three times, Moseley lost three forwards to the sinbin and Palmer kicked a match-clinching 30-metre penalty four minutes from time.
The visitors got off to a flying start when former Cambridge centre James Ayrton regathered fly half Bradley Burr’s chip to send winger Chris Smith racing 40 metres diagonally to the line.
And the Red-and-Blacks then had to produce some determined last-ditch defence to deny Stortford no.8 Baxter Wilson following a front peel from a lineout on the home 22.
Although Wilson was then unable to hold Burr’s scoring pass, Stortford did soon add a second try when flanker James Apperley forced his way over following a series of forward thrusts.
After Burr’s conversion hit the post, the hosts proceeded to control a second quarter during which they claimed three converted tries.
The first of these was finished by flanker Morgan Dawes who was driven over from close range for a score which Palmer converted.
Mose then took full advantage of Jonny Arr’s pinpoint kick and Tony Worthington’s lineout steal to work Smith into the clubhouse corner.
Palmer tagged on the extras, and the former Cov No.10 split the uprights for a third time on the stroke of half-time after Smith wriggled past his opposite number for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Palmer’s penalty extended Moseley’s advantage to 14 points early in the second half before home hooker Peter Austin was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.
Although Burr’s penalty drifted wide, Stortford pressed hard during the resulting powerplay period, and eventually retained possession through a number of phases to work centre Sam Winter into the corner.
As Austin returned, home lock Danny Wright replaced him in the sinbin for killing the ball on the ground and Tom Walker narrowed Stortford’s deficit to six points with the resulting penalty.
Smith then completed his three-timer – and also logged a home try bonus point – when he showed the defence a clean pair of heels from 35 metres following some neat handling.
After Palmer retained his 100 per cent record from the kicking tee, Stortford exploited a five-metre attacking scrum against seven opponents to shunt Wilson over for their bonus point score which Walker converted.
The replacement’s second successful conversion then gave the visitors a 31-32 advantage after a well-timed midfield loop sent Chris Smith skating between the posts for his second try.
Palmer’s second penalty – awarded when Stortford infringed on the ground just outside their own 22 – put the hosts back in front four minutes from time.
A yellow card shown for a Buster Lawrence high tackle threw the visitors a late lifeline, but Moseley forced a turnover on halfway and in the process clinched all five points, while Stortford were forced to settle for two.