RUGBY ROUND-UP: It could be a tough season ahead for the area’s leading rugby clubs if last weekend’s results are anything to judge by, as the three sides that were in action in the opening Saturday of the season in the regional leagues all lost.
Warlingham, in London and South-east 2SE, shipped six tries as they lost 46-11 at Hamsey Green to a resurgent Maidstone side, while in the tier below, in LSE 3SW, Purley John Fisher got walloped 31-13 at Eastleigh and Old Mid-Whitgiftians were thumped 31-3 at home by Farnham.
Farnham is best known as being the original junior club of Jonny Wilkinson, though their collective achievements have been relatively modest, but they gained promotion from the Surrey county league in May and at Lime Meadow Avenue they carried on where they left off last season.
The first scrum was ominous: Farnham immediately showed their strength in this department and it was to have a major bearing on the afternoon. And the first score came from the boot of the Farnham fly-half, Ben Rubio, after 12 minutes.
In the wet conditions, knock ons and scrums were frequent, which gave the visitors a significant and growing authority in the game.
On 24 minutes Farnham were penalised for not releasing and fly half James Orchard levelled the scores at 3-3. Nine minutes later he had a chance to give his side the lead but the ball drifted narrowly wide.
Farnham made a rare sally into the Mids 22 and seemed certain to score but another great tackle, this time by full back Matt Shields, kept the visitors out. Respite was only temporary, however, as Mids lost their on scrum near the line and were then penalised.
The visitors played to their strength, elected for a scrum and the pressure told when they were awarded a penalty try. Rubio converted and Farnham had a 10-3 lead which they took into the break.
Into the second half, Farnham upped their pace and Midwives had to tackle fiercely just to stay in the game. The pressure told, though, and when a kick to clear was not well-chased, Farnham full-back Gabe Hills beat the wrong-footed defence and scored in the corner. Rubio kicked the extras, to put his side 17-3 ahead.
Mids’ fate was sealed in the next three minutes by two gifts to the opposition. First a long kick out of the Farnham 22 was not safely dealt with and Hills was up again to dispossess the defence and score under the posts. And when Mids scrum half David Stanton tried to kick to touch from behind his own line, he was knocked off balance and Jason Crabb had the simplest task in touching down. Rubio converted both tries and Farnham had a big score and the bonus point.
At Warlingham, the hosts came up against a newly promoted side that showed the benefits of some serious recruitment, so that despite fielding two international players in their side – in Finland’s Mikael Ahola at No8 and Yassine Boufaied, of Belgium, at prop – the home side struggled against the far superior weight and size of the visitors’ pack.
Maidstone opened the scoring with a converted try, and matched Warlingham full-back Joe McEvoy’s successful penalty kick.
Tight head prop Kieron Scutt scrummaged well and captain Zack King made several forays into the Maidstone half, supported by the ever-improving Ollie Dodwell in the back row.
Nevertheless, the pressure was always there and Maidstone capitalised on Warlingham
handling errors to score two further tries before half-time. McEvoy converted a second penalty and the Warlingham pack became revitalised. A surging break from a maul by Scutt ended with lock forward Nick Ray crashing over for a much-needed try to Warlingham.
After the break, Maidstone kicked another penalty and an interception try put clear water between the sides.
Warlingham played catch-up rugby, with a inevitable consequences. The hefty Maidstone forwards gave them the advantage and two further tries went unanswered.
Clubs in the county divisions begin their league seasons on Saturday week, September 28, with Old Whitgiftians at Old Blues, and Walcountians hosting Old Wimbledonians in Surrey 1, while in the division below, Surrey 2, Streatham-Croydon are at Cranleigh and Croydon play at Old Amplefordians.
Coming to Croydon
- Green Heritage Fair at Heathfield House: Sep 21-22
- Three plays in a pub: The Ship, Sep 24
- Have a cup of coffee and help fight cancer: Sep 27
- Help break the chains of human trafficking: Sep 28
- Minister’s musical celebration for Silver Sunday: Oct 6
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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