by Paul Smith (Sunday Mercury)
Disappointing Birmingham Moseley slipped to a third consecutive National One defeat courtesy of a 33-3 reverse at Bishop’s Stortford.
The visitors, who arrived in Hertfordshire on the back of a good performance in last week’s home defeat by title chasing Rosslyn Park, never got going until the closing stages of the contest.
And by then Stortford – who began the day nine points and five league positions below the Red-and-Blacks – had secured a comfortable win plus a much-needed bonus point.
Adam Balding’s mid-table Moseley team now face a tough run of fixtures against National One’s leading sides and urgently need to re-establish some of the confidence and determination which typified their impressive early-season form.
Stortford were handed the best possible start when Moseley allowed home scrum-half Sam Bryan to dart through a gap close to the breakdown from where he sent centre Jack Scantlebury over for a try which Tom Walker converted.
Mason Tonks was then denied a chip-and-chase score by some good Stortford cover before Harry O’Brien slotted the simple 30-metre penalty that put the visitors on the scoreboard.
The hosts extended their advantage shortly before the half-hour mark with a well-worked try to which tall winger Chris Smith applied the finishing touch after his forwards made plenty of ground around the fringes.
Walker added the extras and the home side’s no.15 soon took his personal tally into double figures when he converted his own touchdown following flanker Jacob Wrafter’s barreling run.
With Moseley lock Harry Barnes in the sin bin his opposite number Harry Charter was denied a score for an earlier knock-on but this still left the visitors with an 18-point interval deficit.
And Balding’s team had a mountain to climb three minutes into the second half when Rafter dived into the right corner to register a try bonus point for the hosts after Moseley turned possession over on their own 22.
Aside from an impressive effort from their front five in both scrum and lineout the visitors had little to shout about until a raft of substitutions sparked them into fourth quarter attacking life.
Aquile Smith broke dangerously down the right only for a handling error to end the move before Pat Zindi’s score was ruled out for offside.
And a length-of-the-field Moseley attack launched by Isaac McNulty’s interception ended with Tonks failing to hold the scoring pass at the other end.
However, with Zindi in the sin bin Stortford had the last word through Walker’s conversion of lock Tom Lewis’ driving lineout score.
Tries: Scantlebury, Smith, Walker, Wrafter, Lewis
Cons: Walker (4)
Bishop’s Stortford: Walker; Swannack, Ayrton, Scantlebury, Smith; Cole, Bryan; Brownhill, King, McCrone; Charter, Lewis; Apperley, Wrafter, Banks
Replacements: Rayment, Peverelle, Etherington, Stannard, Powell
Birmingham Moseley: Benjamin; Tonks, Allsopp, I.McNulty, Smith; O’Brien, Pointon; Foreman, S.McNulty, Ajayi; Kiff, Butler; Safe, Munro, Johnson
Replacements: Tideswell, Barnes, Zindi, Dight, Cleaver
Referee: Iain Kiy
Half-time: Bishop’s Stortford 21-3 Birmingham Moseley