Warlingham RFC Director of Rugby, Nick Warren was left disappointed despite his side scoring 6 tries away at bottom of the table Basingstoke RFC on Saturday. Warlingham laboured to a 40-16 victory in a performance lacking the intensity and accuracy their supporters have come to expect in 2018.
The immaculate Basingstoke pitch and the pleasant English weather should have laid the perfect platform for an afternoon of entertaining, running rugby. Basingstoke, already relegated and planning for next season, were first on the scoreboard through a well struck penalty kick, 0-3.
Sloppy handling errors and poor decision making from the away side allowed Basingstoke to enjoy the majority of possession in the opening quarter. The home supporters were punching the air when their forwards managed to bundle over the try line from a close, 0-8. Captain Alex Skinner gathered the troops under the posts to address the pedestrian start. It certainly worked as an immediate reaction from the Mighty Warl forwards as they marched the ball up field. A strong break from powerful winger Emmanuel Ademuyiwa, saw Skinner in support to dot down for the try. The reliable Joe McEvoy made no mistake from the tee to put Warlingham within a score, 7-8.
Another line-break soon after paved the way for Centre Jack Atkinson to show his strength by shrugging off his opposite man to crash over the try line on the left side. McEvoy unlucky with the kick on this occasion but Warly led for the first time in the match, 12-8.
A long range Basingstoke penalty kick pegged the score back to 12-11 going into the break.
Warren provided the hairdryer treatment at halftime, demanding more energy and intensity from his players. The standard of play and quality of execution was not at the level we’d seen from this Warlingham side in recent months. He also made tactical changes introducing the powerful duo of Matt Prince and David Priest plus veteran scrum-half John Hosken. Prince made an immediate impact, crashing through Basingstoke players to put his side on the ascendance. Quickly recycled ball allowed the Warly backline to attack at pace. Smart hands from Atkinson created space for the electric Funsho Ajayi, and he finished with devastating affect from 50 yards, leaving a handful of Basingstoke defenders in his wake. McEvoy with the simple conversion, 19-11.
The Warly coaching staff and supporters urged their side on in the search for a try bonus point however, it was Basingstoke now dominating possession with 20minutes left on the clock. Continuous pressure and hard running lines from the home-side created problems for the Warly defence. Basingstoke’s deservedly went over for a try on the far left after holding onto the ball for multiple phases. Conversion missed but a very tight game with 12 minutes reminding, 19-16.
Warlingham’s experience, fitness and power proved to be too much for Basingstoke in the final 10 minutes. Replacement centre Priest bundled over for two tries and youngster Callum Wand dotted down under the posts. McEvoy adding the extras to secure Warlingham at 40-16 victory and a rare try bonus point.Warren said after match, “I’m not happy. I feel we’ve missed an opportunity to lay down a marker for next season. Credit to Basingstoke, they made life tough for us however I demand more from my players and they should expect more from themselves”.
Warlingham 2nd XV enjoyed a high scoring victory at home 90-5. Both sides are in action again this week with the 1s at home to 4th places Trojans and the 2s making the short trip to Old Cats.
Updated 20:53 - 5 Jun 2018 by Peter Jerrom