Woking RFC away fixture at Merton

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First XV
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Woking travelled away to take on their long standing bogey team Merton on Saturday, a glorious day for rugby in near perfect conditions, on a pitch that had stood up well to the recent onslaught by the weather.

Still missing key men Dan Hills and Phil Robertson, through injury, the Woking pack looked to captain Adam Smith to lead, and from the off he gathered the ball and charged forwards. Merton's defence proved impenetrable, and after soaking up the first few minutes of Woking possession, a clearing kick bounced awkwardly for Chris Wallis to deal with, and Merton slipped through for a quick try.

The bounce of the ball portrayed the story for what was to follow, as several clearing kicks from both sides bounced mercifully into Merton hands, who capitalised through quick counter attacks with the back three on another three occasions in the first half. Despite a spirited effort, Woking simply could not break through the Merton defensive line, until a well worked two phase move put Steve Rhodes through on a charge for the line, before quickly recycled to Mike Aitchison who placed Ryan England in under the posts for a Woking try. With the conversion attempt somewhat interrupted by some young pups on the pitch, concentration was obviously lost by Aitchison as the kick was pushed wide.

A tough first half 26-5, but with the second half came hope of a change in slope of the pitch and a downhill battle for a come-back. Woking started strongly from the kick-off, but yet again Merton's bolstered defence, with a multitude of large new faces, stood firm. A number of break through chances came from Aitchison, Smith and Dan Edwards, but the final phases stumbled to a halt and time after time the Merton back line put boot to ball, successfully repelling any Woking advance. Caught out by the bounce of the ball once more, Wallis floundered, and Merton scored once more against the run of play to take the score to 33-5.

The final score of the game came through some excellent play from the Merton forward pack, controlling a number of driving mauls deep into Woking's 22, before their new no.12, a giant of a man who earlier in the game had sent Woking's Justin Dougherty to hospital, crashed over some tired defence in the fringes to bring the scoring to a close at 40-5. A frustrated Steve Rhodes was sent from the field for a late hit before the ref could blow the final whistle.

Captain Adam Smith had little to say after the game, "An utterly disappointing result."

Woking 2's continued their fine form away against Croydon in a top of the table clash which saw Woking come out the victors 7-10 to take them 6 points clear of the league with three games remaining. A great result for the club, but the 1st team could certainly do with some of the 2's grit and determination coming through ahead of next week's league games.