By Jamie Arrowsmith 28/02 Updated: 29/02 12:22
Stoke 20 Old Laurentians 12
RFU Intermediate Cup Midlands Semi-Final
OLs' best performance of the season was not quite enough to see them triumph at Stoke on Saturday as their hopes of appearing in a Twickenham final came to an end.
The home side have been in awesome form throughout the campaign, winning all 15 of their Midlands Two West (North) fixtures with an average score of 50-6 to sit 15 points clear at the top of the table.
The opening stages were somewhat worrying for the visitors as Stoke moved the ball around at pace and looked confident and dangerous in the first 15 minutes.
OLs appeared powerless to stop them too, unable to to kick or run the ball out of defence they conceded a converted try after just three minutes and a 15th minute penalty to trail 10-0.
Stoke's supporters were noisy and excitable, just like every Saturday no doubt, and expecting the normal drubbing of the opposition.
But the visitors were not prepared to surrender just yet and they signalled their intentions to fight in the 20th minute when Simon Bayliss made a break down the right wing and exchanged passes with Ben Anderson to go in under the posts, Bean converted.
All of a sudden OLs realised that maybe Stoke were not as invincible as they thought and spent the next 20 minutes dominating both territory and possession.
They were unable to add to their tally though before the interval and Stoke took advantage to go three points further clear when awarded a penalty.
OLs took the initiative again at the start of the second half and three charge downs of attempted Stoke clearances eventually led to Troy Owen gathering to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Two long range penalties also failed to find the target for OLs as they trailed by just a point before Stoke delivered the killer blow.
The visitors had been on the front foot throughout the second half but a moment of individual brilliance from number eight Grimshaw saw him dodge three tackles and cross from 40-yards for a converted try to give the home side breathing space.
Still refusing to surrender, OLs came forward again and won a penalty that if successful would have set up a grandstand finish but the effort was missed and it was the home side left to celebrate at the final whistle.
In terms of effort, OLs could not have given more. The back row were outstanding, with Eborall picking the ball up and running at the opposition at every opportunity and James Orbinson having his best game for the club.
Despite the disappointment at the final outcome, OLs can use their fine showing as a springboard for the rest of the season as they mount a final push for promotion back to Midlands One and the chance to meet Stoke again.
A GOOD fightback from the 3rds saw them overcome Moreton Marauders 20-15.
Kev White's early penalty gave OLs the advantage before Stuart Page crossed for an unconverted score to make it 8-0.
Moreton hit back strongly though and cut the gap to 8-7 by the break before adding a penalty and an unconverted try in the second half to lead 15-8.
Skipper Tim Chambers climbed off the bench for Ols and began their revival, a good spell of pressure leading to Ben Roach breaking free and going over.
That was followed by a fine passing move which resulted in Paul Lewis finding the line and Kev White converted to complete the scoring.
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