Niall McGregor, captain of Crewe & Nantwich RUFC, who beat Whitchurch

Crewe & Nantwich RUFC 1sts secured a vital away win at local rivals Stoke, 24-16.

Kieran Allsop returned at scrum-half for Crewe, Charlie Hutchings moving to the left wing and centre Toby Russell-Vick joining the squad for his debut game.

And despite the wet conditions, both teams made the best of it.

But Crewe adapted better and played the conditions with clinical efficiency.

Stoke took an early 3-0 from a penalty kick, but after that Crewe’s forwards took control and delivered a masterclass in 10 man rugby.

Captain Niall McGregor and the half-backs in Allsop and fly-half James Wivell, controlled proceedings in atrocious conditions.

The pressure told and from a scrum on the left, the ball went through a series of phases with No 8 Ben Ham and scrum-half Allsop making good ground.

And in the 12th phase in front of the posts, the ball went to Wivell, who backed himself to crash over the whitewash just to the right of the posts.

Wivell converted to add the two points for a 7-3 lead.

Soon after Stoke kicked a second penalty for a scrummage infringement.

However, Crewe continued to turn the screw and from a lineout won cleanly by Ham, the forwards drove the Stoke pack towards their line.

From the maul, Ham broke for the line and was held up but managed to get to ground.

From the ensuing ruck, 2nd row Bugzy Davies took a short ball to steamroller his way through to score to the right of the posts, converted by Wivell.

Stoke still kept themselves in the game at 14-9 with another penalty for offside.

But the decisive score was yet to come.

From a penalty in the Stoke 22, the forwards worked their pods and releasing big runners McGregor and Ham who both charged for the line and retained possession.

The ball came back from another phase and Allsop fed Davies who took the ball at full speed and smashed his way through to score his second try.

At half time, Russell-Vick replaced Tom Roberts to make his debut and 2nd row Pat Fray joined the battle a few minutes into the second half.

In the 60th minute, Stoke were awarded a penalty try after Crewe were down to 14 men for collapsing a driving maul.

Stoke opted for a scrum six metres out and were awarded a penalty try for a scrummage offence.

That made the score 19-16 to Crewe after the successful Stoke conversion.

But the visitors did not panic and they kept turning the Stoke forwards and putting the ball behind them, frustrating the hosts who repeatedly tried to run the ball out of defence, making mistakes.

The decisive score was from a Crewe scrum six metres out.

Ham picked up at the base and went blind, feeding Allsop who drew his man and released full-back Ward to score in the righthand corner for an unconverted try.

Crewe held out, and director of rugby Andy Brown singled out Bugzy Davies for his man of the match performance.

He said: “Bugzy brings to the team experience and massive exuberance of spirit plus when he is well managed by the coaches and rested during the game, he really makes a difference.

“Bugzy always puts his body on the line for the team. His 60 minutes of play were excellent and he certainly punched his weight in these conditions. He was a worthy Crewe & Nantwich man of the match.

“We proved we can score tries, retain the ball, play in the right areas and produce a comprehensive defensive strategy to win a game in the worst conditions seen this season.

“They can look back on several games which would have been victories had they played with this maturity.”

The second half of the Midlands 1 West season starts when they welcome Walsall at home next Saturday, kick off 2.15pm.

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