RUGBY ROUND-UP: If you think Wales or Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squads have it bad with injuries, then spare a thought for local club Warlingham, who rocked up for their latest London 2SW fixture at Basingstoke missing pretty much an entire first-team squad, and forced to call-up 58-year-old team manager Tony Doe as a reserve prop forward.
And Warlingham won, 33-10, picking up the bonus point before half-time and with Doe – who made his debut for the club 37 years ago – taking the field for the last 10 minutes or so, playing a vital part in a couple of scrums.
“We were very thin on the ground with more than a dozen players unavailable but the debutants were a credit to the team and themselves by showing great determination and commitment to both attack and defence,” Andrew Cox, the club captain, said.
“This was a defining game for us and hopefully we will take this confidence into our next games.” Warlingham’s try-scorers were Lewis Unsworth, Brad Saffery (2), Brad Kearney and Jack Atkinson, who also kicked four conversions. Warlingham host Old Reigatians at Hamsey Green on Saturday week, Oct 24.
A month into the season, and the playing record of the area’s top club is a bit of a curate’s egg – W2, L2 – so with so many players missing, meeting Basingstoke at this stage was a bit of a relief. The Hampshire club sits bottom of the table on -5pts, a penalty deduction carried over from last season when they fielded an unregistered player – the days are long gone when sides could get away with “D Duck” and “M Mouse” in the second row on their forms submitted to Headquarters.
Which explains the near-desperation in Warlingham’s turning to a 58-year-old prop: failure to have sufficient front-row players available, and seeing a game descend to uncontested scrums on safety grounds, gets short-shrift from the RFU. So Doe probably saved his club a damaging points deduction.
Saturday’s other big game – possibly bigger than Wales v Australia at Twickenham – was the annual schools’ showdown between John Fisher and Whitgift.
Whitgift took the honours with ease this year, winning 32-0 thanks to tries from Sam Morley, Funsho Ajayi, Thomas Griffiths and Matt Harrison, while Sam Morley kicked three conversions and two penalties.
“It was good to see the team play well in such a tough game,” said Chris Wilkins, Whitgift’s director of rugby. “We had to work very hard for it, but I was pleased with our solid defence and the way we managed the game as a whole. All-in-all it was a good day and a real team performance.”
Both sides will have had an eye on this Wednesday’s NatWest Cup second-round fixtures: after first-round byes, Whitgift travel to Richmond College, while John Fisher visit Wallington CGS, who enjoyed a 60-5 first-round win. Trinity, after spending a month watching the France World Cup squad training on their playing fields, have an away tie at Esher College.
The schools’ old boys’ clubs suffered mixed fortunes in their fixtures on Saturday, both playing in London 3SW, with Purley-John Fisher winning 29-23 against Old Tiffinians but Old Mid-Whitgiftians suffering a 53-5 walloping at Old Tonbridgians. That was MidWives’ third defeat in their first four matches, so it looks like it could be a long, hard winter at Lime Meadow Avenue.
In Surrey 1, the division immediately below the London regional leagues, Old Whitgiftians suffered their first loss of the season, 33-13 at Old Wimbledonians, to dent their early hopes of a promotion challenge.
After four matches, Whits are fourth in the table, six points off leaders Old Freemans, and with a derby fixture on Saturday week at Croham Manor Road against Chipstead, who suffered a bruising 52-0 defeat to the division leaders last weekend.
Croydon RFC, having been spared relegation after their win-less 2014-2015 season, are still glued to the bottom of Surrey 2, suffering their fourth defeat on Saturday, 46-7 at Cranleigh, although Old Walcountians, 33-10 winners over Old Amplefordians in their latest match, are in third place in the table, having only lost one game so far. Walcountians must expect a try-scoring bonus win this Saturday, when they visit Croydon’s West Wickham ground.
Over at Frant Road, still playing in Surrey 3, Streatham-Croydon have enjoyed a high-flying start to their season, unbeaten after 21-13 wins over the Met Police, 52-21 v Merton, 48-5 at Reigate and, on Saturday, 31-12 over Mitcham and Carshalton.
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