RUGBY ROUND-UP: Purley-John Fisher are on the march.
A week after thrashing Old Paulines 52-10 for a bonus-point win to go to fourth in the London 3SW division, PJF thumped Weybridge Vandals, the division’s early pace-setters, 33-3 at the Pightle to leapfrog into second place in the league.
The result represented sweet revenge from the reverse fixture earlier in the season, when they got well stuffed, 40-9 at Weybridge.
Phil Jones, James Quigley and Ben Inglis all scored tries for PJF last Saturday, while Johan Malcolm floated all the conversions over and slotted four penalties to keep the score board ticking over.
Further down the table, Old Mid-Whitgiftians look like they have secured their status for next season, but they had to come from behind in the closing minutes to snatch a tense 16-10 win over Old Paulines at Lime Meadow.
Midwives dominated for most of the opening 20 minutes, winning plenty of good ball. Scrum half Jake Bacon was finding space and he and fly-half Dan Crouch linked well with their backs to produce numerous opportunities. But all Mids reaped was a penalty goal from Crouch after eight minutes as they failed to capitalise on their dominance.
Having soaked up the pressure and conceded a fistful of penalties, Paulines broke out and produced some excellent handling to get them back in the game.
Although Mids defended well, with centres David Stanton and Andrew Dean tackling like lions and a crunching hit from winger Matt Shields, they had no answer when Paulines took a quick throw-in and an excellently timed pass to centre Eithan Humphreys sent him in for a try. The visitors had taken an unexpected 5-3 lead, the score at half-time.
Midwives had a chance to re-take the lead six minutes into the second period, but Crouch’s penalty kick from 30 yards narrowly missed. Given another opportunity seven minutes later when Paulines had hands in a ruck, and Crouch had found his range to give his side a 6-5 lead.
As Paulines battled to get back into the game, they turned down a number of kickable penalty chances. When Mids were awarded another penalty, Crouch was again successful to make it 9-5, a far from comfortable advantage, especially as Paulines now applied even greater pressure, especially in the scrum.
Paulines now had the better of things with their pack getting on top in the scrum. They refused more goal-kicking opportunities and looked for the try. This duly came 7 minutes from the end when desperate Mids defending resulted in a penalty for the visitors five metres out. They opted for the scrum and No8 Toby Ejsmond-Frey picked up to cross the line. Tellingly, the conversion was missed, but the visitors were 10-9 up, with time running out.
The Paulines pack was overpowering Midwives in the set scrums and in the rucks. A Crouch drop goal attempt smacked of desperation as it missed by inches. Paulines opted for a long drop out which was well fielded by Shields and the young wing ghosted his way through several tackles to set up a great, final chance for the home side. The line was well set and the ball was moved quickly left by Crouch and Stanton to give the scoring pass to man of the match Alex Scott, making his debut in the back row. Crouch kicked a magnificent conversion from the touchline to add the last points of the match.
For the second week, Midwives’ fixture follows PJF’s, as they take on Weybridge this Saturday, and must hope to take advantage of the going over that the Vandals endured at their neighbours last Saturday.
Lower down the leagues, in the county divisions last Saturday, the three local sides in Surrey 1 were all beaten: Croydon lost 43-6 at Old Freemans; Old Walcountians lost 6-19 at the Clockhouse to Kingston; and Old Whitgiftians were also beaten at home, 10-24 to Old Cranleighians.
In Surrey 2, Streatham-Croydon’s promising season looks to have hit the buffers going into 2013, after two defeats in as many weeks, this time 16-3 at Old Tonbridgians.
And in London 2SE the area’s leading side, Warlingham, also got a tough deal, losing 27-17 at Deal and Bettishanger, although with the cold wind blowing off the Channel, they did have the consolation of seeing fly-half Mark Kozminski score with a penalty from inside his own half.
That proved a short-lived success, though, as the hosts came back with a penalty kick of their own and then grabbed a try from a quickly taken tap penalty, which was converted.
The scoreboard soon ticked over from 10-3 to 15-3, to 22-3 after two more tries for the home side. Only another Kozminski penalty prevented Deal from disappearing out of sight before half-time.
Into the second half, and some determined forward play from Zac King and his No8, Tom Skinner, gradually pulled Warlingham back into the game. Skinner and lock Mike Fair took
the visitors close to the Deal try line and were awarded several penalties. King was driven over for Warlingham’s first try.
At 22-11, some pride had been restored, but any prospects of a comeback were doused when Deal went and grabbed the bonus point for their fourth try of the match.
Young prop forward Kieran Scutt got a consolation try for Warlingham, which Kozminski converted.This Saturday Warlingham have another difficult away trip, to high-flying Lewes.
- Warlingham will have another “trophy” to display at their Hamsey Green HQ, after their former junior player Chris Robshaw, now the Harlequins and England captain, was last night named player of the year by the Rugby Writers’ Club.
- Tomorrow’s tough Daily Mail Cup match between Whitgift and Hampton has been switched to be played under the floodlights at Esher RFC, kick-off 7.30pm.
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
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