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Woking embarked on a short but challenging end of season tour to Gloucester to round off their XV a side season. Travelling down to the historic city and staying in the magnificent New Inn Woking were treated to cabaret by the new tourists and a fine club meal together on the Friday evening followed by a tour of the local hostelries and also some historic sites and ancient features. Later it was the dance floor that provided the warm up opportunities for the game the next day.
The weather was dreadful on Saturday – real Four Season weather with sleet, rain , sun and wind. The clouds cleared as Woking took the field to take on Old Cryptians, already with 2 casualties flat out in the changing room. The pre-match re-hydration was evident when Woking started the game as the normally confident Dan Hills knocked the ball on from the kick off to hoots of derision from his fellow tourists on the touch line. Taking advantage of this Old Crypts powered on into the Woking 22 and scored a try through prop Gareth Morris. Woking began to take shape as Fly half Dan Edwards carrying a hamstring pull was forced to pass the ball to supporting runners thereby avoiding his often lateral or reverse running. Joking aside this hamstring did mean he couldn’t make any of this trade mark breaks that would for sure have given Woking the playing advantage!!!
Smith and Robertson were effective off Edwards and brother Matt at 9 was his usual elusive self. However some sloppy work from Woking gifted Old Crypts the ball and fly half Louis Bird sprinted in for the home side’s second try. Robertson was magnificent in attack from the restart powering forward setting and then going again to break through and score a good try on the Woking left. At half time Woking were down by a try – however centre James Plowright put Woking back in the game with some powerful running that left a number of tacklers in his wake as he dived over for the try.
It was pretty much end to end stuff and the pace was telling on both sides. The crowds were enjoying themselves greatly as the banter flew between them. Then Old Crypts secured their third try as full back Josh Flounders sprinted long and hard outflanking the Woking defence. Woking 2XV captain Jason Williams was forced to leave the field as his shirt was painfully constricting his belly and a few changes were made to the side which saw Woking’s very own kojak lookalike Simon Power puffing his way onto the wing. He was immediately thrust into the game demonstrating a meandering running line that confused the opposition and his own players.
Woking were pressing on and a great break from Woking flanker Shaun Gilbert was rewarded with a try that was converted by Wallis. Then it looked like Woking may take the lead as a break down the left wing saw the ball passed to Power who looked like an octopus as he tried to grasp the ball only for it to go through his arms and be knocked on. Woking rang a few more changes that disrupted the side a little and as the final minute approached Old Crypts broke out of defence and it was only a forward pass spotted by the referee that prevented a further try. That was the final play and the result was a fair 17:17 draw.
After the game Woking were entertained well into the night by their hosts. New tourists were forced to indulge in some amateur Olympics that saw several casualties as balance was lost and brambles were found! Worse was to follow as Woking’s Neil Murphy slipped up on the car park tarmac after the game and self-inflicted a black eye and knocked head that left him dazed and confused for the rest of the evening.
The rest of the evening was available for club and bar pursuits and merriment. Plowright excelled on the karaoke as well as the pitch. A few tired bodies were rejuvenated on the dance floor as the Woking boys received a warm hearted welcome in this great rugby City.
Sunday was a day of rest and some of the more cultured attended the cathedral, dragon boat racing in the docks and Kingsholm, home of Gloucester RFC. Others went back to bed. Then there was the obligatory court session where sentences were meted out for misbehaviour and lateness. Then it was back to Woking on the coach.
Whilst the Gloucester trip rounded off the XVs season, much to the relief of some of the veterans of the club, the 7s squad are continuing to train and play tournaments in the coming weeks. On Saturday they entered the charity 7s at Esher RFC and the day was very enjoyable with Woking getting through to the quarter final of the cup.