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Woking traveled over to Watford RFC to play in the first round of the Junior Vase on Saturday. Having picked up a number of injuries to regular 1st XV players, Woking showed a great depth of quality in their current senior squad, with several debutantes to the 1st XV.
Expecting a tough game, Woking looked well drilled from the outset, stringing together some constructive phase play with strong running from captain Adam Smith, and debutant no.7 Shaun Gilbert. A rush defense from the Watford back line gifted a chip over from no.10 Aitchison, gathered by Dan Hills, playing for the first time at no.13, who made it across the try line for a 5-0 lead.
Watford hit back hard, but Woking's defense stood firm for 20 minutes before Matt Armstrong at no.9, slowed play illegally and received a yellow card for his troubles. Watford missed the penalty conversion and Woking cleared their lines ready for a tough remainder of the half being down to 14 men. Further solid defense, and an excellent ball steal from Adam Smith created an opening for Aitchison to burst through and put Hills into space. Hills sprinting in for the try line just got caught, but managed a quality offload back to Aitchison to collapse over the try line. Conversion missed.
Watford continued to stretch the 14 man Woking defense, and capitalized on a well constructed overlap just before half-time to bring the score to 10-5.
A scrappy 2nd half start allowed Watford to momentarily draw level at 10-10, before another excellent piece of work from man of the match Dan Hills, stretching his long arms to pluck out an interception, and having the stamina to run the length of the pitch to give Woking back the lead 17-10, with the conversion.
A number of injuries to Woking players, including one serious concussion to no.12 Justin Dougherty, and a broken nose for no.7 Shaun Gilbert, forced Woking to make changes in the last 20 minutes. Woking, camped inside their 22, made some strange decisions and some shocking clearing kicks. One such clearing kick from Aitchison landing neatly in the hands of a stray Watford prop stood on the wing, who powered past the Woking outside backs to score a try, despite some extraordinary acrobatics from Woking's Colin Pearce. 17-15.
An exceptionally unfortunate refereeing decision of accidental offside, as the ball bounced into an injured Alisdair Hamilton-Wilkes, provided a list kick of the game chance for Watford. With a level head the penalty was slotted, and Watford took the victory 17-18. Captain Adam Smith was quoted, "We were expecting a tough game, and we stepped up to the plate. An excellent showing for the club as a whole, we can definitely be proud of our performance. We wish Watford the very best in the next round of the cup"