RUGBY ROUND-UP: After giving them the big build-up here last week, Croydon RFC’s recent run of good form came to an abrupt end at Chipstead, where they lost 25-5 down in Surrey 2 last Saturday, while previously win-less Streatham-Croydon finally enjoyed their first victory of the league season, winning 32-12 at Frant Road over Bec Old Boys. How things change…
The game has a habit of turning matters on their head . Last week Whitgift old boy Marland Yarde made his first full international start at Twickenham for England in the gripping win over Australia. This week, the London Irish wing is sidelined with injury and not available for the match with Argentina. Up one moment, down the next.
On a fair more prosaic level, while Yarde was scooting down the wing at Headquarters last week, his fellow Old Whitgiftians were claiming a much-needed 21-19 win at Old Freemans in Surrey 1 and Old Walcountians got their first win in five league matches, beating Old Blues 15-10. Thanks to the RFU’s divisional points system, with bonus points for this and that, and Freemans’ defeat, Walcountians’ win propelled them two places off the bottom of the table.
The conditions last Saturday – strong winds, driving rain – will have shaped most club matches, where skill levels were often stretched to breaking point. Hulking front-rowers who only train a couple of times each week will soon have been worn down by frequent scrums for knocked on and dropped balls.
That was certainly the case at Hamsey Green where Warlingham, the area’s leading club, playing at the slightly loftier levels of the London regional leagues, ground out a much-needed 14-8 win over Lewes in London 2SE.
Yet the vagaries of the bonus point system has affected Warlingham as adversely as it appears (for now at least) to have benefited Walcountians: despite having registered three wins from their seven matches so far, Warlingham remain just five points off the relegation spots. That situation could be improved by 5pm tomorrow afternoon, as Warlingham this week host bottom-placed Aylesford.
Against Lewes, Joe McEvoy kicked three penalties in the first half for Warlingham, but they conceded the first try of the match and Lewes kicked themselves to within a point with a penalty of their own.
Having featured in a try-scoring video in this column last week, veteran forward Ben Wiseman had been recalled to Warlingham’s first XV to be used as a second-half impact sub, but in difficult and worsening conditions, with five minutes to the final whistle, the outcome was still too close to call.
Lewes were awarded a penalty which could have given them the lead. But the kick was missed and Warlingham counter-attacked. A Lewes knock on was scooped up by winger Jon Osborne, who scooted through the Lewes defence to score a try in the corner. On the pitch and on the league table, Warlingham had got themselves some breathing space.
It was also a case of hard-fought and much-needed wins in the division below, London 3SW where lowly Old Mid-Whitgiftians also snatched a narrow victory, 19-16 at Camberley to move off the bottom of the league table.
The conditions suited Camberley’s big, strong pack, especially once they started to keep the ball tight, using a succession of mauls to drive into MidWives’ 22. But the home side failed to turn their early dominance into points, which was to prove a crucial error.
With the strong wind at their back, Camberley put in some high kicks, but MidWives’ full back Dan Wilkinson dealt with these admirably with these, running the ball out of defence. Eventually the break came when fly half James Orchard and second row Dave Spedding combined to feed winger Albie Tayedzerwe. He seemed covered but a deft piece of acceleration took him past his man on the outside. He did not leave Orchard the easiest of conversions but it was struck sweetly into the breeze and Mids were 7-0 to the good after 15 minutes.
Camberley came back, though, and eight minutes later their No8 Kyle Lovell reached out from a maul on the MidWives’ try line to score. The conversion kick leveled the scores. Two penalties just before half-time gave Camberley a 13-7 advantage, but with the prospect of their having to play into the wind for the second half.
Mids’ scrum had now got its act together, and a flowing move nearly put wing Simon Jupp over. Camberley’s clearing kick was beautifully fielded by Wilkinson and he sent Tayedzerwe into space with room to build up his devastating pace. He sailed past several tackles to go over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Camberley began to play the pick-and-drive game which the conditions demanded and forced their way up-field. Mids were penalised in front of the posts and Marshall increased the home lead with a fine kick into the teeth of the wind to make it 16-12.
But Camberley were hanging on. Just before the end of normal time, one of the many Camberley clearing kicks failed to find touch and Tayedzerwe was on hand to repeat his heroics and beat the defence for sheer speed. This time, he was able to touch down under the posts to give Orchard a simple kick and Mids had the lead when it mattered.
Mids hope to continue their resurgence with a home game against Old Wellingtonians on Saturday.
In the same division, Purley John Fisher enjoyed a convincing 26-16 win at Old Cranleighians. Tomorrow, they meet Farnham at home.
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Coming to Croydon
- Poppy Cafe, Coulsdon, re-opening: Nov 9
- Aurora Orchestra with Samuel West perform Britten and Auden: Nov 10
- The Kings of Summer: Nov 11
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Summer in February: Nov 18
- Much Ado About Nothing: Nov 25
- 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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