Longton produced their worst performance in many years in going down by 44pts. to nil to Stafford at Castlefields.
There was no indication of this during an evenly contested first 38mins. which saw no score from either side. The first 10mins. were all Longton but a combination of handling errors and conceding unnecessary penalties, plus some good defending from Stafford, meant no scores on the board.
It was the 22nd. minute before Stafford had their first real opportunity but a penalty in front of the posts was missed. Paul Green’s massive left boot was putting Longton into good field position but they could not take advantage of these chances.
In the 35th. minute Stafford were awarded another simple penalty from 20m. out but again the kick went wide. With 38mins. gone Stafford took a quick tap penalty and moved the ball wide right to open the scoring with a try. The conversion missed but it was 5pts. to nil. Then, in the 42nd. minute Stafford went further ahead with a simple penalty to go 8 – 0pts. up but that was not the end of the scoring as Stafford took advantage of an overthrown Longton lineout to counter for a try. The conversion was missed but the half-time score was 13 – 0pts.
The 2nd. half began badly for Longton when influential No.8, Gareth Rawlings, was yellow carded in the 8th. minute. Stafford took immediate advantage with a try from a 5m. drive. This time the conversion was good making it 20 – 0pts.
Longton were still down to 14 men when the hosts scored a try wide left from a pick up from the scrum. The conversion missed making it 25 – 0pts. Restored to 15 men Longton began to attack but passes were dropped at the vital time when tries were on; it perfectly summed up Longton’s dire afternoon.
With just over 10mins. left Stafford decided to throw the ball moving the ball wide at every opportunity and it paid dividends with three late tries, two of which were converted making the final score 44pts. to nil thus ending a dire day for Longton.
Stafford were worthy winners and will gain some confidence from this fine start to their season. Longton have a chance to redeem themselves next week when they entertain Tamworth.