Guildford vs Warlingham
By Barry Ruddock
Tight Game - Too close for Comfort...
Final Score 20-20
Not many teams could concede a dozen penalties and two yellow cards and still come away with a victory, but the Warlingham U16s rolled into Guildford for the latest ‘city vs country’ match-up and still did their best to give the home supporters some hope of an unlikely win.
The presence of a strong breeze blowing (fortunately) towards the crematorium did not escape Guildford and they kicked well forcing a number of early knock-ons. A break from the Guildford fly-half looked to open up the Warlingham defence but for a fingertip tackle by the Warlingham back-row. Warlingham’s relentless defensive pressure proved too much for them and when the home team did finally get near to scoring, they opted to kick for goal. (3-0)
With the Warly midfield magicians itching to get their hands on the ball in perfect conditions, it was only a matter of time before a break up the pitch saw Oliver Wilson sneaking a cheeky inside pass out of the tackle. A few phases later Conor raced into the opposite corner to score Warlingham’s first points. (3-5)
A competitive arm-wrestle in the breakdown was a big feature of this game, with two well-matched packs slugging it out. Warly were edging it by sheer determination (and size) and spurned a couple of chances by overplaying, but when they secured quick ball through Ed Matthews the threat was clear with Obi scoring after a strong run from 30 metres out. (3-10)
At this point Guildford could’ve been forgiven for expecting a drubbing, Warly having scored from both their chances. However, the first half ended with them camped on the Warly line, repeatedly repelled by some fine defence including strong tackles from Brayner, Ben & Ollie Matthews. Nonetheless the home team crossed the try line only for the ball to be held up and the half-time whistle blown.
With the breeze behind them Warlingham started the second half powerfully, the set-piece scrum led by Morgan blowing away the opposition. However, a sign of things to come for Warly came when a penalty was awarded against them for back-chat. From the 22 metre line Guildford mauled over to score by the posts. (10-10)
Guildford pressed again but a turnover in the Warly 22 was cleared diagonally up to half way, Obi putting in a crunching tackle and turning over for Conor to run up the left touch line. A clever chip over the defence and a sprint to touch down in the corner was the champagne moment for the visitors. When the referee caught up the try was awarded but with another lecture on dissent. (10-15)
By now Warly were getting used to being pinged at every break down, and when ruled offside conceded again to make the score 13-15. However from the kick-off some great pressure from Warly led to numerous attacking phases and few slick passes gave Obi the chance to break a tackle on the wing and score again. (13-20)
With the smart money on Warlingham to run away with it, Guildford came roaring back to test the visiting defence. Again and again Warly were penalised at the break down, but defended defiantly just metres from their try line. Eventually however a yellow card for a high tackle weakened the defence enough for Guildford to score under the posts, making the score 20-20. After the try was awarded a second yellow card for discipline was followed by the final whistle, with Warlingham scraping the cup tie on tries scored.
Those watching were left in no doubt about the commitment of the two teams, but also the threat posed by this Warlingham U16 squad with the ball in hand.
After some welcome Guildford RFC hospitality, the home coach kindly acknowledged that perhaps Warly had got the rough end of the refereeing (not a single penalty was awarded against the home team) and thanked everyone for making the journey from Croydon.
Coaches Men of the Match:
Match report by David Sawkins