RUGBY ROUND-UP: The match of the week locally undoubtedly took place in South Croydon yesterday afternoon, when Whitgift School beat John Fisher 29-6 in the latest round of the NatWest Cup national schools competition.
Stan South, the Whitgift lock, scored two tries while fly-half George Jones kicked 16 points for Whitgift, who were never put under the same amount of pressure they faced last month when, in the annual “friendly” between the two neighbouring schools, they hung on to win by the odd point in 49.
Whether the 2013-2014 Whitgift generation has any prospect of matching the Eliot Daly and Marland Yarde cadre and going on to win the cup at Twickenham next April may be indicated on Saturday, when they host the reigning cup-holders, Dulwich College.
After last weekend’s local club action, Warlingham in London 2SE are looking vulnerable to a relegation scramble, after they lost 24-14 at home to Aylesford Bulls, the bottom club in the division who had previously failed to win any of their fixtures.
“This was the worst we’ve played all season,” was the uncompromising assessment of Peter Wrightson, the Warlingham chairman.
With some tough games coming up before the Christmas break, Warlingham find themselves fourth from bottom of a division in which in previous seasons they had approached with some ambitions of promotion.
This bottom-of-the-table tussle was certainly not champagne rugby at Hamsey Green, with an error-strewn first-half seeing Warlingham, in particular, giving up possession repeatedly as players took the ball into the tackle but lacking support.
Against the resulting Aylesford counter-attacks, Warlingham’s defence held firm for half an hour before the visitors broke clear down the right flank and scored their first, unconverted try.
Things got worse for Warlingham in the second-half, when two moments of lack of concentration saw the Bulls intercept a wayward pass to score, closely followed by a slick lineout ball and a dart through the midfield for the third try and they were 19 points to the good, the game as good as over.
To make matters worse for the hosts, Aylesford were soon after gifted a fourth try, and bonus point. Only after an hour’s play did Warlingham get on to the scoreboard, a shimmy and dash from fly-half Joe McEvoy rewarded him with a try which he converted.
The Warlingham pack then put together several phases of play in the final five metres of the Bulls’ half and Mikal Ahola, their Finnish international No8, was rewarded for his 80 minutes of endeavour with Warlingham’s second try which McEvoy converted.
Just up the Limpsfield Road at Lime Meadow Avenue, and a division lower in London 3SW, there was equally disheartening developments at Old Mid-Whitgiftians, who got a good booting, losing 26-7 against Old Wellingtonians. And like Aylesford at Warlingham, Wellingtonians had arrived for their game without a win all season and rooted to the bottom of their division.
“The Mids plumbed a new depth with this performance,” was the judgement posted on their own website, accusing the side of making “idiotic errors” after they conceded 12 points within five minutes of kick-off.
In an error-strewn game, the pace of MidWives’ winger Albert Tayedzerwa – who a week earlier had scored three tries in a more competent all-round performance by his teammates – was only ever used to chase down Wellingtonians who were running back intercepted fumbles.
With eight minutes remaining, veteran flanker Joe O’Keefe nabbed a not-much-consolation score, and Mids were perilously close to a second try with the last touch of the game, the loose ball just trickling into touch before it could be nudged over the line.
“If Mids are to salvage their season, performances are going to have to be a great deal better than this,” was the club’s official conclusion.
Purley-John Fisher rounded off a thoroughly demoralising set of results in the regional leagues on Saturday, completing the hat-trick of home defeats, beaten 39-21 by Farnham.
Down in the county divisions, Old Whitgiftians’ good season continued with a 20-11 win over Old Wimbledonians in Surrey 1, where in the basement clash at Kingston, Old Walcountians got a 17-17 draw which at least gives them a glimmer of hope of dragging themselves out of the relegation places.
In Surrey 2, Croydon beat the table-topping Law Society 13-8, but Streatham-Croydon suffered a frustrating 31-24 defeat at Old Emanuel.
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