Rugger Bognor? PJF face a promotion showdown

RUGBY ROUND-UP: A 22-0 win at home for Purley John Fisher last weekend sets them up for an all-important clash against Bognor at Parson’s Pightle tomorrow which could define their season.

PJF's Liam Miles, supported by Tom White and Tom Leather, force their way through Old Blues's defence

PJF’s Liam Miles, supported by Tom White and Tom Leather, force their way through Old Blues’s defence

Most local clubs have this Saturday off, but PJF have a game in hand on the two sides above them in the London and South-East Division 3SW league table, Winchester and Weybridge Vandals. With Bognor just two points above basement club Old Blues, the Purley club will be looking for a bonus point win to narrow the gap to Vandals, currently second in the table with 73pts to PJF’s 67, with just another three rounds of matches to play before the end of the season.

The title looks to be Winchester’s to lose – they have already accumulated 83pts. Purley John Fisher are keen to get a return to the second tier of London club rugby after two years down a rung, and are pinning their hopes on a future fixture between Winchester and Vandals to damage Weybridge’s promotion prospects.

PJF despatched Old Blues last Saturday with relative ease, scoring four tries to secure the all-important bonus point despite the unhelpful, freezing, wet and windy conditions as both sides experienced dropped passes and knock-ons.

PJF’s tries were scored by winger Thompson (2), Liam Miles, and second-row forward Ben Grundman, the man of the match. Miles Murphy kicked a single conversion.

Old Mid-Whitgiftians look as if they will finish the season solidly in mid-table in PJF’s division, after beating Old Wellingtonians last week.

MidWives were 14-10 up at half-time, thanks to a try from skipper Temi Okenla and four penalties from the boot of fly-half Dan Crouch. In the next quarter, the visitors hardly got out of their own half as Mids took charge.

Mids were quicker to the breakdown and Paul Murphy was a giant in the engine room. The referee had warned both sides about their excesses in the penalty count and eventually Mids lost a man to a yellow card. Despite this disadvantage, Crouch widened the gap to seven when he kicked another goal after 56 minutes and the visitors in turn lost a player to a yellow card.

Now it was Wellington who were in the ascendancy and after Mids lost the ball forward in midfield the visitors moved the ball quickly from the scrum to send the strong-running Freer to the corner for his second try. The conversion was missed but there was plenty of time for Wellington to win the game.

They had several opportunities and felt they must prevail when Mids had two players carded and played the last eight minutes with 13 men.

Temi Okenka charges down a Wellingtonians clearance for Old Mids

Temi Okenka charges down a Wellingtonians clearance for Old Mids. Photograph by Peter Filewood

Heroic defence, however, including a lightning steal from Stanton, now playing at scrum half, and a salmon leap from Dave Spedding to take an opposition line out saw them frustrate Wellingtonians and close out the match 17-15.

One tier below, in the county league Surrey 1, Old Walcountians won 30-5 against Cranleigh, Old Whitgiftians beat Old Wimbledonians 25-12, but Croydon lost (again), 30-7 at Kingston. It was Croydon’s 15th defeat in 16 league games this term.

With two fixtures remaining, Old Whits are in third place in the table, but the 12-point gap to Old Cranleighians in the promotion slot looks too big to bridge.

Streatham-Croydon, in Surrey 2, have seen their season peter out in the last month, and a 23-17 defeat at Bec Old Boys saw the one-time promotion chasers slip to fourth in the division.

The area’s leading club, Warlingham, enjoyed a comfortable 31-9 win over Heathfield and Waldren at Hamsey Green in London 2SE on Saturday, Tom Street marking his return to the side by finishing off an outstanding move for the opening try in which fly half Asa Wright produced a wonderful step to open the space for his pace to the flank forward.

With place-kicker Mark Kozminski keeping the scoreboard ticking over with regular penalties, into the second half Warlingham’s pack stamped their authority on the game and, when the ball was quickly recycled Wright swept to the blind side and found Street in the tram lines. With much to do Street just grounded the ball before he was bundled over the corner flag but the score was good.

Heathfield never seriously challenged the home club’s try line, and after they managed to slot their third and final penalty, Warlingham fought back as captain Zack King slipped through the traffic for the third try, which was immediately followed by the rapidly maturing young prop Kieran Scutt crashing over for the bonus point fourth try.

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