RUGBY ROUND-UP: Surrey 2 is the lowest of the RFU’s leagues involving local clubs’ first XVs, but it is showing how readily fortunes may change. Last year, Thornton Heath-based Streatham-Croydon, one of south London’s senior clubs from the “old days” were flying high in the division and challenging for promotion, while in the league above, Croydon RFC – a rugby accident of history, with the former Purley Wanderers having a home with a Bromley post code – couldn’t buy a victory and were tailed off last in Surrey 1.
Streatham-Croydon’s promotion push eventually petered out on the muddy pitches of the deep winter. Their near namesakes Croydon were duly relegated at the end of the season – they scraped together a win once they got into April.
So it was that the two clubs met at Addington Road last Saturday, with last year’s strugglers this time victorious 22-7.
The latest defeat leaves Streatham-Croydon without a league win this season and plumb last in the division they so nearly escaped from just a few months ago. Croydon, meanwhile, under the hard-working coach Bill Maynard, lie in third place in the division with three wins from four games. This Saturday’s visit to The Meads at fourth-placed Chipstead, for another keenly contested derby fixture, will go a long way towards determining whether Maynard’s men have a realistic chance of bouncing straight back to Surrey 1.
Saturday’s was far and away Croydon’s best performance of the season, their success based on the domination of their pack. The Pecorella brothers anchored the set scrum, with Dom Plumb contributing many surging drives.
The game was really won at the breakdown, where Croydon’s aggression secured a number of turnovers, enabling fly-half, Guy Maynard to dictate play in Streatham’s half.
Croydon’s tries came from James Griffiths, Jamie Pecorella from a line-out drive and Dave Thornton, capping an impressive all-round performance, while Guy Maynard slotted a dropped goal and two conversions. Streatham-Croydon’s speedy wing Aaron Brown took a rare opportunity when he broke a tackle and ran-in from halfway for his side’s lone try.
Streatham-Croydon hope to kick-start their season at the Frant Road home this Saturday when they have a derby of sorts, against Tooting-based Bec Old Boys.
At the other, sharper end of the local club rugby pyramid, in London SE2, Warlingham long ago realised they are in for six months of hard graft, which the 31-18 defeat in appalling conditions at Sevenoaks only served to reinforce.
With accurate kicks from the ‘Oaks fly-half and the strong wind keeping Warlingham pegged in their own half, the visitors were 28-0 adrift by half-time, to three tries, two of them converted, and three penalties from the deadly boot of the home side’s No10.
Coach Ben Stobart had a lot of work to do at the break and made two changes. Warlingham welcomed back former skipper Tom Street and half-back Stephen Murtagh, whose introduction managed to move things forward, helping to get their side on the scoresheet within two minutes of the re-start thanks to a long-range penalty from Joe McAvoy.
With the wind at their backs, Warlingham began to see a lot more of the ball and strong carries from Street and Keiron Scutt forced ‘Oaks into conceding penalties, McAvoy doubling his side’s score.
Warlingham then found themselves deep in ‘Oaks 22 and through a catch and drive line out Street scurried over for Warlingham’s first try of the afternoon. McAvoy added the extras, and at 28-13 the visitors began to think they might retrieve something from the game.
But an error when trying to run the ball from their own half gave a penalty to Sevenoaks, which the home side’s fly-half scored into the strong wind, halting the visitors’ momentum in the game, though Jack Green seized a try-scoring chance in the corner in the final minutes of the match.
“I was proud of the way the boys responded at half-time and their attitude in the second half was brilliant,” Stobart said, “We have to make sure were start in better fashion next week.”
That will be against Lewes at Hamsey Green on Saturday.
Warlingham continue to try to turn out four XVs each weekend, sometimes plus a veterans’ side, though finding opposition is a constant struggle. Their 2nd XV, playing in a Surrey-wide league, did get a run-out and win last Saturday: this video of a Ben Wiseman try demonstrates that some in their first XV may have competition for places…
Tough times, too, in the division below Warlingham, London 3SW, where Old Mid-Whitgiftians lost 9-23 at home to Shanklin and Sandown last week, and Purley John Fisher – who at one point early in the piece were reduced to 12 men with three yellow cards from a trigger-happy ref – lost 14-31 to KCS Old Boys at the Pightle.
This Saturday, Midwives are away at Camberley, Purley-John Fisher travel to Old Cranleighans.
In Surrey 1, bottom-placed club Old Walcountians host Old Blues at the Clockhouse this Saturday, after having lost 22-15 at Old Whitgiftians last week. Old Whits’ next game is at Old Freemans.
Contact your local rugby clubs here:
Coming to Croydon
- The Railway Children: Oct 30-Nov 2
- Frankenstein’s Travelling Freakshow: Nov 5-8
- Poppy Cafe, Coulsdon, re-opening: Nov 9
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Comedy in Music show: Dec 1
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- 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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