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Woking seconds continued their warm-up to what will be a challenging league season on Saturday against Old Haileyburians. After some last minute cancellations by the opposition front row it was, unfortunately for Woking, a game with uncontested scrums.
This did much to diffuse the strength of the Woking pack, giving OH more opportunities to spread the ball wide. So it wasn’t long into the game before OH recognised that Woking could be exposed in the backs, after some concentrated effort and spreading the ball out wide, OH scored. The conversion was missed.
After the re-start it was more of the same. OH did everything to keep the ball away from the marauding Woking pack, with Kieran Siddons, Josh Parker, Matt Pullen and John Steadman much to the fore. But having spotted some dog legs in the Woking defence OH were quick to capitalise and managed to score a brace of tries from deep in their half after some interception passes.
Determined to make a dent on the score board Woking gathered for the last 10 of the half, playing to their strengths with a determined pick and go approach by the forwards, well marshalled by man-of-the-match Ross Calaghane at scrum-half. Woking were rewarded for this forward effort when number eight and Captain for the day Dale Lovell charged over from 10 yards on the back of a tap-and-go penalty.
In the second half it was largely more of the same; Woking penetrated hard and retained possession well, only to be out-done by the final pass, a canny interception or some well worked ball from OH’s well drilled backline. The opposition managed to run in several tries in this time period.
But Woking never gave up, despite the forced withdrawal from the field of second row Steadman with a head injury and captain Lovell with a torn calf with 20 minutes to go. Woking rallied under the influential Parker and were rewarded with a try scored through the forwards by hooker Nathan Buckley.
Commenting afterwards Lovell said; “the score line is misleading in what was a well fought contest upfront. Some missed tackles, a lack of match fitness and some experienced backs playing for the opposition cost us dearly. That and the fact we had to go uncontested in the scrum. But there were many positives considering the way we stuck at it, won lots of possession and made solid ground in the forwards. There is a long season ahead and we are keen to build on this experience as we enter the league fixtures in October. We will get much better.”