Stevens signs off as Tenbury rugby skipper with a last-day defeat to Cannock

First published in Sport

Tenbury 17 pts Cannock 26 pts

A LAST-DAY loss cost Tenbury a magnificent seven from seven finish to the season.

But Tenbury's form during the run-in has excited skipper outgoing Pete Stevens.

A much-changed side were unable to secure a perfect finish for the club, falling 26-17 at home to third-placed Cannock.

It was the first time Stevens’ side tasted defeat since January 18, with a late surge sparked by several new signings guaranteeing their safety in Midlands Four West (North) and a seventh-place finish.

Stevens said: “I’m looking forward to next season – we’ll start with a stronger squad.

“We really pushed forward; we won the last six games and turned over the leaders Harborne.

“On Saturday we hadn’t really had a lot to play for but even though we lost, the young players involved were coming up to afterwards saying that they really want to push for the first team next year.”

They will be doing so under a new captain, with Stevens stepping back after two years in the job.

“It’s a lot to do for two years,” he said.

His replacement will be named over the next month, with a number of Tenbury’s senior players having already worn the armband.

In his last game leading Tenbury out, Stevens’ side fell behind 14-0, as they struggled to deal with the physical running of Cannock’s forwards.

The home side closed the gap to four when hooker Rob Phillips crossed following a slick line-out exchange with Ian Bowkett, with Stevens converting and adding a penalty.

The game broke down soon after, and Cannock were able to extend their league and put the game out of reach with just three minutes to play, despite a try from Tenbury’s veteran replacement Andy Black.

“We were right in with a shot until the end,” Stevens said. “The lads really fought, and the young lads grew in confidence as the game went on.”

Among those 18-year-old wide-men Callum Spiers and Jacob Thomas and second-row John Hitchens put their hand up for increased action next year, and Stevens believes that all three have a bright future at the club.

And the hope is they will be lining up alongside Dan and Tom Rawling and Russell Jones – whose mid-season switch from Ludlow helped drive Tenbury’s strong finish, and whose continued presence would be a big boost for the young squad.

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