THIS was an absorbing clash between two mid-table sides, writes Sean Moore.
The quality of rugby was at times thin but both sides were committed and the result was never a sure gone affair. Whitehall suffered greatly from their poor discipline and three players were sin-binned at some stage.
The penalty count against them was very high, much to the annoyance of their boisterous supporters. Stroud enjoyed early pressure and Chris Jones featured in a bullocking run but, as so often, sloppy passing led to the movement petering out. Phil Middlemass put in some fine athletic tackling and eventually pressure paid off.
Jake Marsh, whose classy running lines were woefully underused, slipped two or three tackles and set up a position in the Whitehall 22.
Good ball was shipped out to Craig Jones at no. 10 and he cleverly created a gap for Dan Gordon to take a smart pop-pass and he raced away to score under the posts.
Ian Bushell, who had a fine game with his direct, no-nonsense running, added a conversion. 7 - 0. Whitehall replied soon after with a penalty after a maul was illegally stopped. 7 - 3. On the verge of half-time Stroud were awarded a penalty try after a maul was again brought down illegally. Bushell converted, 14 - 3 and signs of relief all-round.
The second half saw Stroud attacking strongly and a long kick and chase by Gordon was just halted in the corner, but a crooked throw into the lineout meant no chance of further points.
Soon after, however, Bushell kicked a 35 meter penalty, 17 - 3. Shortly afterwards, Rob Bashford, making a welcome return to Fromehall, was sin-binned after being on the pitch for 30 seconds.
Whitehall seized the advantage and drove over from the scrum, 14 - 8. Stroud re-grouped and made inroads into the opposition half, and eventually, concerted forward pressure led to Rob Sealey being driven over near the corner flag, 22 - 8.
Stroud were relieved but a late rally by Whitehall saw them also drive over for a converted try. At 22 - 15 there were some nervous moments for Stroud but they kept their discipline and defence to achieve a hard fought victory.
Star Player: Craig Jones - always astute in his kicking and passing. A good general.