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Leaders Stow-on-the Wold are primed and ready for end-of-season run-in

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 2nd February 2024, 09:00

Stow-on-the-Wold are hoping for six of the best as they look forward to what seems sure to be a thrilling end to the season.

The in-form side travel to Hereford tomorrow hoping to build on a run of results that has seen them win their last five games, a run that has catapulted them to the top of the 12-strong Regional 2 Midlands West.

And with six games to go, it’s very much in their hands as they chase what would be their second league title in three seasons.

Not that it will be easy. They hold just a one point advantage over Silhillians, who they visit in their penultimate game of the campaign, while Newent and Cheltenham, who trail Stow by six and eight points respectively, are also in the title hunt. Cheltenham travel to Silhillians tomorrow.

“It’s all to play for,” said Stow’s head of senior rugby Jamie Gibbs. “For some of our younger players, it’s the biggest six games of their career so far.

“Everybody is buzzing, it’s very exciting and we’ve got to enjoy it.”

But while Gibbs wants everyone at the club to enjoy the next two months, the former Richmond scrum-half wants to win too.

“The target is to go to Silhillians and still be top of the table,” said the 37-year-old. “That would mean there’s pressure on them to perform when we play them. They’re a very good side but the bigger game the better we seem to play.”

Silhillians won 17-10 at Oddington Road at the start of December but Stow bounced back the following week to beat the then leaders Newent 26-19 and they have been in dominant form since the turn of the year.

However, four of their remaining games are away and Gibbs is certainly not getting carried away.

“We’ve got some really tough games,” he said. “Hereford away, Cheltenham away, they’re not easy.”

Fifth-placed Hereford won 19-17 at Stow in mid-October, a game that Gibbs believes was a turning point in Stow’s season.

“We underperformed against them but we’re in a much better place now, the hard work is paying off,” said Gibbs.

“Hereford have got a strong pack and they’ll have improved since we last played them but we believe we’ve improved more.

“If you look at the second half of the season, we’ve bettered all our results against teams we've played for a second time. That’s a very good sign.”

It certainly is. Stow won the old Southern Counties North back in 2021/22 and Gibbs would love to follow that up with another title and with it promotion to Regional 1 Midlands.

“One hundred per cent,” he said. “Yes, it will be tougher but if we do go up to Step 5, that would help the club to grow further. We might not win as many games but we’ve got the players who can play at that level.”

Stow’s six remaining fixtures: 3rd February, Hereford (a); 17th February, Worcester (h); 2nd March, Cheltenham (a); 16th March, Ludlow (h); 23rd March, Silhillians (a); 6th April, Moseley Oak (a).

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