UEA advanced to the last 16 of the Midlands Conference Cup after a straight-forward 94-12 victory against lower league Staffordshire.
The visitors, who play their rugby in Midlands Division 4A, were no match for a clearly superior UEA side, three leagues ahead of the team from Stoke. Despite suffering from injuries to a number of key players, the hosts were rarely threatened and the victory was never really in doubt, despite a lacklustre five-minute period in the first half where Staffordshire threatened a comeback of sorts.
UEA got off to the best start possible, with Adam Bramhall scoring two tries in quick succession after showing good pace to evade a number of half-hearted tackles. UEA made a number of opportunities for themselves after successful rucks in the centre, creating space in the flanks for the wingers to take advantage of. When Connor Sutherland scored a simple try under the posts to make the score 19-0 early on, the game seemed virtually over.
But the visitors reacted positively to their latest set-back, and put together a number of promising periods of possession. Their pressure finally paid off, as they bundled over the try-line to cut the deficit in the scoreline. The try reinvigorated Staffordshire, as you could tell from their improved tackling, whilst UEA were punished by the referee as he awarded a number of penalties against the sky blues. After a UEA line-out near their own 22 was intercepted by Staffordshire’s fly-half, he sprinted away and ran the ball home in the far corner of the pitch. Despite the missed conversion, the score was now 19-12 and it seemed as if they were firmly back in the game.
However, the away side’s good spell of play only lasted for a short while, and UEA dominated from this point onwards. Bramhall ended the match with four tries to his name, while both Shaun Cahill and Mark Perkins scored two each and fly-half Sam Wilkinson racked up plenty of points with his boot. The second-half turned into a procession for the hosts as Staffordshire struggled to get out of their own half, with tries coming at a consistent rate.
Following their impressive victory, UEA will now face an away trip to De Montfort I in the last 16 of the Midlands Conference Cup.