Unbeaten in nine games, Winchester sat firmly on the top of the league table and were clearly confident of scalping the home side. They used their large forwards to good effect and rolled in two tries plus a penalty to go 15 points up in as many minutes. Injuries to four Warlingham’s key players, captain Jon Fox (shoulder), prop Mike Freeman (calf), lock James Delderfield (head) and centre David Priest (hand) unsettled the home side but, despite a further penalty to Winchester in the first half, turned round and, in the filthy conditions, put in a display of pure grit and doggedness to give the visitors a shock.
Warlingham’s defence has been miserly of late, giving away few scores, and tenacious tackles from Mark Mardle, Alex Skinner and Ben Warman kept Winchester quiet and a swift move down the left flank ended when winger Callum Wand fed Tom Webster for the first try. Fly half Joe McEvoy slotted the conversion from the tramlines and Warlingham’s
tails were well and truly up. Winchester stole a third try from their pack’s rolling maul but then McEvoy sniffed a chink in the midfield and slithered through for Warlingham’s second try but the conversion went wide. No further scores were recorded but Warlingham clearly finished the fitter side and, with a full strength side, would give the league leaders a run for their money. After the game director of rugby, Nick Warren, said, “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. 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 next week.”
Warlingham are away to Petersfield on Saturday and then face Old Whitgiftians in a keenly fought local derby on 15th Decemberat their Hamsey Green grounds. All spectators are welcome. Free entrance to all.
Updated 16:20 - 3 Dec 2018 by Peter Upton