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25 October 2014
Surrey League Division 4
Woking RFC 39 Old Oundelians RFC 25
Woking welcomed a rather depleted Old Oundelians side for their third league fixture in as many weeks on Saturday, Oundelians turning up with only 15 players and no subs. But if Woking thought it would be in any way an easy fixture, the visitors were soon to put that notion to bed.
Woking applied the initial pressure with a penalty quickly taken by No10 Mike Aitchison, but as the ball went through the hands it was knocked on. The proceeding scrum was turned over by Woking with dominancy at scrummaging which they were to demonstrate throughout the game. Inside centre Justin Dougherty floated a lovely outside pass to put his centre partner Dan Edwards in at the corner, 5-0.
Old Oundelians came back straight from the restart working through the phase-play. Good defence work by Woking resulted in a stale mate on the home side 22 until Woking’s open side flanker Steve Rhodes was penalised for a high tackle and gifted the visitors an easy 3 points in front of the posts, 5-3.
Further good interplay from the visiting side saw them spreading the ball wide from one side of the pitch to the other amidst a host of missed tackles from Woking, cumulating in a penalty which they were unable to convert to points. But they kept the pressure on and charged down the 22 drop out, worked the ball through the phases and were awarded another penalty out on the right wing. While Woking were napping the visitors acted quickly and charged over to take a 5-8 lead.
After a relatively placid period of play, fluctuating between the two 10 meter lines the Old Oundelians No10 put in a neat little chip kick over the Woking defence and very nearly collected had not the ref seen an infringement by his teammates and called play back for a Woking penalty. Woking kicked to touch and then set up an impressive rolling maul from the line out which took them deep into the opposition half, drawing in the defence. The ball was spun out to the backs and Captain Aitchison dummied once, dummied again and then with a seeming breakdown in communication, popped a neat little pass to no one.
Old Oundelians then returned the pressure with some strong running by their backs into the Woking half. As the play broke down Woking had the time to regroup and defend the ruck ball. But with the Oundelians No1 in possession and the Woking pack lined up in front of him, it seemed as though they hadn’t come up against a prop who could run before. With the speed and the gracefulness of a back, he glided through the home team pack as they stood stationary, side stepped and cut inside to touchdown under the posts, 5-15.
This easy score seemed to waken the home team as they respond almost immediately with great crash balls from forwards John Hursthouse and Josh Parker taking them into the opposition half. This play combined well with the backs and cumulated with a great run from Aitchison up the centre of the pitch which left the Old Oundelians defence clutching at his shirt tails and Woking back in the game only three points adrift, 12-15. However this comeback was short-lived as a high tackle from Jim McGiven just outside the 22 saw him a yellow card and the visitors picked up an easy three points, 12-18.
As the half drew to a close Woking’s No8 Phil Robertson broke from the back of a scrum and made some good ground before being brought down. The ball was shipped back to the forwards emerging from the scrum but it seemed that they just weren’t prepared for it. In confusion they started to retreat towards their try line passing the ball back ‘like it had bomb written on it’ commented Justin Key in disbelief, one of the supporters, life time Vice President of the home team and not someone known for mincing his words.
The half time team-talk worked wonders for the Woking squad and they came out a changed side. A sweet little grubber kick by replacement inside centre Callum Wogan won them a lineout on the 5m line and a crash ball from the lineout to Wogan took them inches short of the whitewash. Quick recycling sent the ball out wide to hooker Rory Blundell for a score in the right corner, 17-18. Further pressure from the restart saw the ball come out of the back of a ruck down the line to full back Andy Hussey who broke through the defending tackles to score and put Woking 22-18 ahead.
As the excitement mounted, Old Oundelians invaded the Woking half and strong running brought them up just short of the try line. But Woking were deemed to have infringed on their try line and the ref awarded a penalty try, 22-25.
Having taken the lead once, it seemed that Woking had slowly begun to believe in themselves and realised that the game was there for the taking. Strong runs from second row John Steadman and the ever reliable Steve Rhodes on the flank, combined with another crash ball from Wogan gained them good yardage and left prop Ben Bremner a simple task for a chap of his size of barging over the try line ordained in defenders. Yet once over he paused for a second or two as if to savour the moment amid cries from the spectators before dropping to the deck and grounding 29 – 25.
Old Oundelians struggled to defend against Woking’s replacement in the centre and yet another crash ball to Wogan saw the defence scattered across the pitch. An opportunity for Edwards down the left wing opened up and he made inroads to the 10m line where the visitors were pinged for not releasing. Edwards slotted the kick to give the home side a 7 point lead, 32-25.
As smoke drifted across the pitch from an autumn bonfire, excitement mounted both on and off the pitch, with Woking wanting to seal the game. But it was Old Oundelians who picked up an interception from another wild pass by Aitchison and play progressed to the 5m line. Unfortunately for them they were unable to capitalise.
From an Oundelians clearance kick, Hussey ran the ball back and fragmented the opposition. Recycled ball was picked up by Aitchison and then with a near miss collision between Edwards and Hussey, somehow Hussey was through leaving the defence stood watching and increasing Woking’s lead to 39-25.
With the final play of the match, Old Oundelians had a wild pass of their very own. Their scrum half extracted the ball from the back of a ruck and launched it unintentionally into the back of the refs head who’s stood some 5m away, much to the amusement of the crowd. With that the ref blew up.
Captain Aitchison commented ‘A disappointing performance against a stronger than expected side. Unfortunately it showed up some complacency that needs stamping out. Hopefully it could be a good wake up call for us, because we were fortunate to still come away with 5 points.