McEvoy punishes Pompey to maintain Warly’s winning streak.
Warlingham RFC 12 – 10 Portsmouth RFC
Warlingham RFC’s extraordinary winning run continued with a remarkable victory over highflying Portsmouth RFC, thanks to the brilliant goal kicking of fly-half Joe McEvoy.
It was a dramatic end to a pulsating London 3 South-West encounter. Portsmouth had the chance to snatch victory with the final play of the game but to the delight of the ‘Mighty Warl’ players and supporters, the 40 yard penalty kick dropped short.
Earlier, promotion chasing Portsmouth arrived at Hamsey Green unbeaten in the league since November and, despite missing a couple of regulars, must have been confident of inflicting another defeat on Warlingham having won the reverse fixture comfortably
There was a significant absentee for the home side in powerful No8 Connor McDonald, however Director of Rugby Nick Warren was pleased to welcome back to the starting line-up McEvoy, giant centre David Priest and the athletic Alex Wingfield returning from injury.
The hosts were first to attack through a barnstorming run by Priest, taking play deep into the Portsmouth half. Unfortunately, the next phase of play was knocked on and Portsmouth cleared their lines.
The opening 10 minutes was a scrappy affair. Both sides struggled to hold on to the ball in difficult weather conditions. Priest did go close to opening the score but pressure from the defence forced the centre to knock on over the try line.
Portsmouth enjoyed a period of possession, trying to use their heavy forward runners to gain momentum and bash holes in the ‘Mighty Warl’ defence. However they came up against a concrete blue and white wall. Warlingham forwards, led by Paddy Green, Matt Mardle and James Delderfield, were destructive in the tackle. As a collective unit they nullified wave after wave of attack by the weightier Portsmouth forwards, regularly driving the opposition back behind the gain line and forcing the away side to knock the ball on.
Warly broke the deadlock when the referee awarded Warlingham a penalty 30 yards out. McEvoy dissected the posts to give the Hamsey Green side the lead, 3-0.
Warlingham started the 2nd half brightly. A long pass by Jack Atkinson found winger Math Richards wide left. His determined run took play into the Portsmouth 22, were a penalty was given for the away side not rolling away from the breakdown. McEvoy kicked the simple penalty, 6-0.
McEvoy struck again soon after when Portsmouth were penalised for an infringement at the line-out. The metronomic McEvoy made no mistake from 35 yards to increase the lead to 9-0.
The powerful and much heavier Portsmouth pack started to dominate the set-piece, pushing the home side off their own ball at scrum time. From a clever kick, Warlingham were forced to carry the ball over their own try line. The unforgiving Portsmouth scrum marched their way towards the line before their No8 crashed over for the games only try. The difficult conversion from out wide was successful, 9-7.
Soon after, Warlingham conceded a penalty for collapsing the scrum. Another good strike off the tee from the Portsmouth kicker, gave the away side the lead with 15 minutes to play, 9-10.
Huge clearance kicks from McEvoy and young full-back Kieran Rickell, relieved the pressure at key moments, when it seemed Portsmouth would add further points to the board. John Dowling and prop George Bench were at their disruptive best.
With less than 8 minutes left on the clock and despite being down to 14 men, it seemed the more experienced Portsmouth side would see out the game. However, a moment of over eagerness resulted in the referee awarding a penalty to Warlingham. A Portsmouth player adjudged to have been in front of the clearing kick.
From 30 yards, McEvoy held his nerve to maintain his 100% record for the afternoon and give his side the lead, 12-10.
The drama continued in the dying minutes when Captain Alex Skinner was penalised for an instinctive reaction, claiming the ball in an off-side position from a knock-on. The 100+ supporters held their breath as the Portsmouth kicker approached the ball. Sadly for Portsmouth the kick was well short with Skinner being the grateful recipient before booting the ball off the field.
Warlingham’s DoR, Warren congratulated his players on a physical and committed performance. “To get a win against one of top sides in the league is obviously very pleasing. It’s a good measure of how much we’ve progressed as a squad throughout the season”. “Now we need to take our performance to the next level against Weybridge”.
Warlingham’s unbeaten run extends to six games and they now take a well-deserved rest from league action until travelling to Weybridge Vandals for an important fixture on 17th February.
Updated 13:17 - 7 Feb 2018 by Gina Mattison