Struggling Whitgiftians face tough derby trip to Hamsey Green

RUGBY ROUND-UP: Croydon sides are top of Surrey 2 and second in Surrey 1 going into the Christmas break

It’s the Big One at Hamsey Green tomorrow, the hottest derby fixture in Croydon rugby, with the district’s two top sides going head-to-head with plenty of scores to settle.

Old MidWhitgiftians have been in impressive form in Surrey 1 this season

In the senior XVs’ final match of 2018, Warlingham host Old Whitgiftians keen to assert local bragging rights after the old boys’ side got one over their neighbours in London and South-East Div 3SW, back in September.

That remains Old Whits’ only league victory of the season, as the Surrey 1 champions of 2017-2018 have struggled to come to terms with the demands of the higher division.

They meet a Warly team which is determined to go into the Christmas break with a victory, after going three games without a win. Not that all of the last month’s Warlingham performances have been poor: a surprising 17-14 at struggling Petersfield last Saturday was gutting, but the draw at Battersea Ironsides last month was also frustratingly close to the kind of outcome which would have put Croydon’s biggest rugby club well in the mix at the top of the table.

Indeed, a battling 23-12 defeat a fortnight ago to division leaders Winchester (who have a perfect 11-win record), has given Warlingham confidence.

“Winchester are almost certain to be promoted this season but we did well to ‘win’ the second half and prevent them from earning a four-try bonus point, which they’ve had on
most occasions so far this season,” said Warlingham’s director of rugby, Nick Warren.

“We now know exactly where we stand in the league pecking order, and we’re clear on the areas to be improved. The boys are keen to iron out any issues and come back stronger,” Warren (pictured left), said.

Warlingham go into tomorrow’s 2pm kick-off fifth in the 12-team table. Old Whitgiftians are 12th, having been leapfrogged by Petersfield after their win on Saturday.

Old Whits’ results have also been frustratingly close of late: last Saturday, they lost by the odd point in 51 at Old Tiffinians, having been beaten 22-11 at home the week before by Trojans, and that came a week after losing by just two points, 10-8, at Petersfield.

Warlingham have been hit by injuries to key players in recent weeks, including captain Jon Fox, prop Mike Freeman, lock James Delderfield and centre David Priest, but are confident that all first-choice players will be fully fit and available for what is likely to draw one of the biggest crowds to Hamsey Green of the year.

There was derby action in Surrey 2 last weekend, where Purley-John Fisher’s 41-24 home victory against Streatham and Croydon see PJF go into the Christmas break in pole position in the league with 40 league points, including seven winning bonus points. The 43-14 defeat at Old Cranleighians is the only reverse PJF has suffered this season.

In contrast, Streatham and Croydon are still seeking their first win.

In Surrey 1, Old MidWhitgiftians have responded to their 47-24 defeat at the end of November to Weybridge Vandals by registering 85 points in their next two games: 53-23 at Old Freemans and then 32-14 over Law Society at Lime Meadow Avenue last Saturday. That puts MidWives second in the table behind runaway leaders Reeds Weybridge going into the mid-season break.

Fly-half Dan Crouch’s kicking for MidWives, out of hand and from the tee, has been votal for his side this term. On Saturday, he scored 10 points for his side, as well as directing affairs as he positioned the ball around the pitch from the start, his precision leading to a line-out in Law Society territory which led to hooker Adam Stammers’ opening try.

Other try-scorers in the bonus point-winning performance were George Daniels, Andy Dean and Ali Hall.

Old Walcountians and Chipstead finish 2018 in fifth and seventh respectively in the table, both with four wins so far.

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