Warlingham welcomed Old Emanual to Hamsey Green who are sitting on top of the table. Both clubs had an unbeaten run to protect, so all on the line. Warlingham were forced into six changes to the squad, five in the forwards. These were due to injury, ski holidays and selection policies. We had a great opportunity to test our strength in depth and see how some of the unbeaten 2nd team would step up to 1st team rugby.
The game started at a frantic pace with neither side gaining an advantage. It became clear that the 2nd team squad players were very able to compete at 1st team level. One area (which has been a strength) Warlingham struggled was the line out and one that OEs put lots of pressure on Warlingham.
After twenty minutes OEs scored a try which was the result of a long period of pressure. The conversion was successful. Within minutes of the try, OEs kicked a penalty which meant after thirty minutes OEs were leading comfortably 10-0.
In the last ten minutes of the first half, Warlingham came alive and started to take the game to OEs. After a superb run by Funsho Ajayi which took him three quarters of the pitch. After several rucks later Math Richards was able to score in the corner. Joe McEvoy kicked the conversion then a penalty soon after meaning both sides went into half time 10 point apiece.
The second half started at the same pace as the first with both sides looking to play a wide, expansive style which delighted the crowd. OEs are able to score soon after the break with their big second row bashing over the line, with the conversion successful, Warlingham found themselves 17-10 down. A penalty and further OEs score meant Warlingham were 27-10 down with twenty minutes to go.
After some changes in the back line Warlingham started to really attack the OEs defence. Great attacking play by Kieran Rickell, Funsho Ajayi & Callum Wand who all showed their incredible pace really threatened the OEs defence. All three are still teenagers which shows the youthfulness the Warlingham team has. After some wonderful passing and creative play by centres Joe McEvoy and Jack Atkinson, the ball was moved wide to Ajayi who showed his incredible pace to run in a try from the half way line.
Unfortunately that was to be Warlingham's last score, and in injury time Warlingham tried to run the ball from their own try line, only for an OEs player to pounce on the loose ball and score taking the score to 15-34 in favour of OEs.
Old Emanual are a very strong side and well deserve their promotion this season, but on this performance Warlingham can look forward to challenging for the title next season.
Warlingham 2nd side travelled to Old Reigatians and recorded a 14-10 victory against a very strong side keeping their unbeaten season still in place.
Updated 08:22 - 28 Mar 2018 by Peter Upton