Woking maintained their winning run, but made hard work of it against a determined south west London Merton side.

Match Date: 
27/10/2012
Woking Team: 
First XV
Location: 
Home
Opponent Team: 
Merton
Type: 
League

Score

Woking Score: 
18
Opponent Score: 
15

Woking started the first half with the cold, blustery wind blowing from behind them, which was a big advantage when kicking. After an even first five minutes, it was Merton that struck the first blow in what turned out to be a double calamity for Woking. Merton moved the ball wide and broke through some desperate Woking tackles to score in the far left corner, leaving two Woking players crumpled in their wake. It was bad news for John Stedman, who had to go off with a nasty shoulder injury. The only bright point was that the conversion kick, delayed until the players had received treatment, was missed in the swirling wind.

The early setback seemed to be the catalyst for Woking to up their performance. Some strong work by the forwards setup good ball for the backs to penetrate the Merton defensive line, but at first Woking could not get close to the Merton line. Eventually they got onto the scoreboard through the boot of Dan Edwards, who missed an early sitter, but then kicked a penalty straight between the posts. With Merton conceding territory and penalties, Woking pushed hard and finally ground out a try. Merton defended desperately, but a succession of short gains ended with Justin Dougherty grounding the ball just over the try line. Edwards added the extras to make it 10-5 to Woking.

Better was to come - Woking pressure led to a succession of Merton mistakes and loose passes on the right-hand touchline. With the ball turned over, Woking pounced and put Chris Wallis in to score in the corner. Edwards missed a difficult conversion, but minutes later added another three points with a penalty kick that just made it over the crossbar from distance. Further pressure led to more loose Merton play at the back until their fly-half hacked the ball out to bring the half to an end. The first half finished with Woking in the ascendancy on the pitch and the scoreboard, with lead of 18 points to 5.

The first twenty minutes of the second half were not much to write home about. A succession of mistakes, slips and poor passes combined with tough defending to keep the scoreboard unchanged. The only moment of note was when the referee went down in a heap, suffering from a pulled muscle. Though he tried to limp on after a long break in the play, it was clear he was struggling and eventually he was replaced by one of the Merton coaches. The new referee's first act was to watch a revitalised Merton power through the Woking defence after a scrum twenty metres out. The try made it 18-10 and though the conversion was missed, Merton were back in the game.

The two sides traded attacks as the game wore on, with Woking having chances but Merton looking the more likely to score. There were two more injury scares for Woking, with Dale Lovell and Justin Dougherty going off in quick succession with bad shoulder and wrist injuries respectively. After the weather had had its say with a big hail storm, Merton scored a third try late on to make the final minutes very nervous for Woking. Fortunately for Woking they were unable to convert and Woking were able to hang on for a 18-15 victory. When it finally came, the whistle signalling the end of the match was a very welcome relief.

The win keeps Woking's good run going, though the team drop a place to third in Surrey 4 due to not picking up a bonus point.

Woking captain Adam Smith commented ‘This was a tough game, we made a slow start had a strong 40 minutes in the middle and a hard fought final 20 – much to improve on’

Woking: Hamilton Wilkes, Edwards, Lovell, Stedman, Hurtmore, Franchino, Smith, Hills, Workman, Aitcheson, Murphy, Eker, Marchant, Dougherty, Wallis. Subs D’Cruz, Elliot.