RUGBY ROUND-UP: Halfway into the 2017-2018 rugby season and it’s clear that in Croydon this winter, Surrey 1 is where it is at.
And after the break for Christmas – no one likes to fill-up the local A&Es with broken collar bones or concussions suffered on the rugby pitch during the festive period – there promises to be a decisive derby battle at Lime Meadow Avenue, when Old Mid-Whitgiftians take on their fiercest rivals, Old Whitgiftians, in a top-of-the-table clash.Whitgiftians (a club formed from Whitgift old boys) owe a small debt of gratitude to their MidWives (Trinity old boys) rivals for a result which has allowed them to go into the mid-season break at the top of the Surrey 1 table, after seven wins from their opening nine matches.
In the last fixture this side of Christmas, on December 9, MidWives took on the Law Society, landing a 25-15 away win and preventing the lawyers leapfrogging Whitgiftians at the top of the table. MidWives lie fourth, having won six of their matches.
Despite missing several experienced players, MidWives notched first-half tries through centre James Orchard, wing James Jenkins, but despite their best efforts, declining kicks at the posts and instead going for territory and attacking line-outs, after an hour the score was poised at 18-15 to the visitors, after the lawyers got a try back.
MidWives now played their best rugby. Flanker Martin Simmonds and the second row pair of Matt Shillabeer and Ryan Williams were everywhere in the loose, carrying, harrying and tackling. Rob Farmer, playing at scrum-half, was like having an extra flanker in the side, and full-back Ollie Fitzgerald dealt impressively with kicks ahead and fearlessly ran the ball back at the opposition.
Jenkins was just short of the line on two occasions with powerful runs down the right. From a line-out close in, MidWives emulated their hosts in replicating their earlier driving maul. Skipper Ali Hall got the touchdown for a well deserved score and Jenkins added the extras with a superb kick, brining his personal points tally in the game to 13.
Old Whits won their last league fixture of 2017 30-21 against Amplefordians, while Old Walcountians went to Old Freemans and won 34-31, while Chipstead lost 18-3 at Old Georgians.
Walcs finish the year sitting eighth in the league, with Chipstead ninth. But Surrey 1 is so super-competitive that 15 points cover Old Whitgifitians in first place and the next six sides. The resumption, on January 13 at Lime Meadow Avenue, promises to be pulsating.
In London 3, the level which the Surrey 1 sides aspire to be promoted to, the area’s senior club, Warlingham, have steadied themselves with two strong wins after a bit of a rocky patch.
Warlingham won 11-5 at fellow strugglers Petersfield on Saturday, to back up the 25-19 victory over Basingstoke the week before.
They now sit ninth in London 3SW after 12 games, despite the previous heavy defeats at the hands of league leaders Old Emanuel and Cranleighians, in what is looking like a consolidation season for Warlingham after relegation last term.
In Surrey 2, Purley John Fisher won their last league fixture of 2017, the derby at Frant Road against Streatham-Croydon, 38-13.
After two successive relegations, PJF look like they are beginning to re-build successfully, enjoying handing out a 95-20 pummelling of Old Wellingtonians the week before. They go into the mid-season break fourth in the table, just ahead of Streatham-Croydon, both with five wins from their nine matches.
Down in Surrey 3, poor old Croydon RFC are struggling. The club which went two whole seasons without a win has lost all its eight games so far this season, which will have made the narrow 25-27 reverse at home to fellow strugglers London Media last weekend all the more galling. They must be hoping Santa brings them a few victories in their stockings at Christmas.
Contact your local rugby clubs here:
- Old Mid-Whitgiftians
- Old Walcountians
- Old Whitgiftians
- Purley John Fisher
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