Giant Priest rewards Warlingham for their faith with a try

New hopes for a new season: Warlingham, in the pale blue and white hoops, got their season underway with a win at Hamsey Green on Saturday

RUGBY ROUND-UP: Warlingham had gone more than a year without a league victory. So long, in fact, that they risked becoming a quiz question on Pointless.

But after the batterings suffered last season, the Hamsey Green club has started the new term in London 3SW with a great deal more confidence, and last Saturday they saw off the challenge of visitors Petersfield 22-17.

Indeed, there were three games hosted off the Limpsfield Road that day, and Warlingham sides won them all – what many rugby clubs at this level of the game would regard as a perfect Saturday.

Warlingham are the last of the local clubs still playing in the London and South-east regional divisions. All other clubs playing in the Surrey leagues get their seasons underway this Saturday.

Warlingham started their season a fortnight ago with a tough 26-5 defeat at Trojans.

But back on home turf last weekend, their new-look squad, under director of rugby, Nick Warren, rediscovered the art and craft of winning rugby, and even came back after the disappointment of conceding the first try.

Warlingham soon responded, though, through a try under the posts from the giant centre, David Priest. Brad Kearney slotted the conversion to level the scores. Warlingham got their second try when scrum-half Alex Sampson chased home a clever chip from George Davies, giving the hosts a 12-10 lead, Petersfield having kicked a penalty.

In tricky, wet conditions, Warlingham started the second half well by dominating the physical battle. After a barnstorming rumble from man of the match, Jonathan Fox, the ball was quickly recycled to Adam Downie-Keen to score in the corner. Kearney kicked an excellent touchline conversion to increase Warlingham’s lead to 19-10.

Warlingham extended their lead to 22-10 with a Kearney penalty.

Outstanding defence around the fringes led by John Dowling and Matt Prince kept Petersfield at bay, however with Warlingham down to 14 men with Alex Stoddart in the sin-bin, Petersfield did manage to force their way over the try line with the last play of the game. The easy conversion went over, but Warlingham had done enough to secure their first win since March 2016.

A perfect Saturday for a rugby club

Warren was suitably pleased. “It wasn’t a complete performance by any means but today is all about celebrating a well-deserved win against an organised side,” Warren said. “We will look to build on this momentum and continue to improve on our performance. A great day for the club.”

Warlingham have some hopes of back-to-back wins this Saturday, when they travel to Teddington, who on the first round of matches were well-beaten by Petersfield.

Down in the county division, after the ups and downs decided last April, the new season kicks off at 3pm on Saturday with the promise of another batch of derby clashes in Surrey 1. With three local clubs in the division – four if you stretch the point to include Chipstead – Croydon-based clubs will be saving on the petrol again this season.

Old Whitgiftians get their season underway at Chipstead on Saturday, when Old Mid-Whitgiftians are at home to Old Georgians and Walcountians host Old Wimbledonians.

The following Saturday, September 30, offers a promising clash, when MidWives travel all the way to Croham Manor Road to play Old Whits, in the battle of the Trinity and Whitgift old boys’ clubs.

In Surrey 2, Purley-John Fisher, after two successive relegation seasons, will be looking for a change of fortunes at Cranleigh on Saturday, when at Frant Road, Streatham and Croydon start their campaign against Kingston. PJF’s first home game of the season is the following week, when they meet Kingston.

And Croydon RFC start their Surrey 3 fixtures with a visit to Horley this week, before hosting Old Ruts at Addington Road on September 30.

  • Prior to the game at Hamsey Green last Saturday, Warlingham’s new President, Debbie Lockwood, presented a cheque for £7,000 to Macmillan Cancer Support, the money having been raised at the club’s Classic Car and Motorbike Show in July.

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