Stafford Rugby were promoted back to Midlands 2 West (North) at the first attempt on Saturday, securing promotion by beating Handsworth 69-17 in front of a delighted home crowd.
It was Handsworth who took the lead from the kick-off, slotting an early penalty after an infringement. But Stafford struck back immediately with a succession of quick tries from Toran Spelman, replacement Cal Hoy and Christian Stelian. Stafford, looking for a bonus point to ensure promotion, kept the pressure on the opposition and were rewarded as fly-half Louis Dewsbury touched down after hard running by Tom Windibank. A quickly taken penalty shortly afterwards saw Stafford score their fifth on the verge of half time as Angus Lennon crossed the whitewash. Stafford led 33-3 at the break.
Handsworth started the better in the second half, scoring a try in the corner after a period of sustained pressure on the Stafford line. But Dewsbury then scored a further two tries for the home team as the lead stretched beyond 30 points, Stafford’s only concern being an injury to full back Matt Walklate. Stelian then added to his early try by scoring a brace as Handsworth tired. The visitors did gain a consolation through an interception try but further scores from Windibank and Stelian wrapped up the win for the home side.
The result came as a relief to Stafford Captain, Oli Greatholder:
“It’s nice to come down and bounce straight back up again. It’s been tough, a tough year, but we’ve worked very very hard. We started back in May so it’s a culmination of a lot of hard work.
It’s nice for everyone down here really, it’s not for just us. We get so many people coming down to support us week in week out. It’s nice for them to see, which is great.
The future’s great, we can only go up really. The links we’ve got with the M.O.D and Sport England. I think the future’s bright for us.”