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With Woking II's on a fantastic run of league form, Woking I's looked like they could come un-done. It was decided to leave the II's team unchanged for their league match, but there were no less than 9 changes to the personnel in the starting first team line up due to absences and injuries.
Straight from kick off Woking I’s were under significant pressure with Wandsworthians spreading it wide through their backs and chipping over to test the returning Gary Raife at fullback. Chris Wallis, making his first start at outside centre, looked solid in defence and Wandsworthians opted for a close quarter battle, driving over to open the scoring 7-0 after 15 minutes.
Stern words of encouragement from Phil Robertson pulled his fresh faced pack together. Debutantes Marc Riddell and Matt Pullen stepped up to the plate and made some strong ball carries. Woking's heads had gone down too easily in recent months, but, as has been the case over the last few weeks, Woking bounced straight back with strong forwards ball retention. This gave quick ball to Aitchison who crashed Ryan England over for 5 points, converted by Aitchison.
The fierce Woking defence and tackle area began to frustrate Wandsworthians, and after a reckless stamp to Shaun Gilberts head, which should have seen a straight red, Wandsworthians lost their prop for 10 minutes. Shortly after a crunching three man tackle from the fired up Gibert, Jon Hursthouse and Matt Pullen completely broke Wandsworthians 12 who left the pitch with no replacement.
The space created by two men off the field left holes all over the park for half-backs James Bannister and Mike Aitchison to orchestrate four tries from Adam Smith, Chris Wallis, Phil Robertson, and one for Bannister himself, before Wandsworthians returned to full strength. All conversions missed, the teams went into half time at 27-7.
The second half saw the long awaited return of man mountain Nick Franchino on the Woking flank. The impact of the frenzied Franchino was immediate as tackles were broken and the magic combination of Robertson, Franchino and Smith in the Woking back row tore Wandsworthians close quarters to pieces. Matt Edwards capitalised on the gaps appearing around the contact area, dummying his was through for a spectacular full length of the pitch try. Exceptional work from the hooker!
After more solid defence from Ryan England and Marc Riddell, Wandsworthians tempers once again frayed as a late tackle from their no.10 on Aitchison saw him also leave the pitch for 10 minutes. Aitchison immediately took advantage of his missing man marker and jinked over for 5, converted by Wallis. Woking played some superb heads up rugby, sucking in Wandsworthian defence before sending wide passes out to the backs. Aitchison linked up with Wallis twice in quick succession as Wallis hit his hat-trick and finished the game off with one final conversion to close out at 51-7.
Club captain Richard Grady beamed, "All of Woking players stepped up today and filled some big boots with a number of regular first team players absent. The 2's win at Battersea takes them 8 points clear at the top of their league and the 1's return to form puts them back in contention for a 4th place finish. An excellent day topped off by an excellent charity event at the club raising £350 for Motor Neuron Disease thanks to the organisation of assistant coach Pete D'Cruz. I'm a very happy man right now."