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Horley RFC 19 Woking RFC 10
Surrey League Division 4
Saturday 01st November 2014
Woking made the 50min drive to Horley on Saturday for their first fixture against the new boys to the league. Horley, recently promoted from the Sussex Spitfire Merit League, Canterbuy Intermediate Division were somewhat of an unknown quantity and Woking were unsure of what to expect. But whether it was the drive down to Horley, complacency from their last three league wins, the absence of pack leader Phil Robertson or a combination of all three Woking just weren’t fired up for the encounter. Vines BMW, sponsors of both teams had put £200 behind the bar for the winning team and the use of a BMW for the weekend for the winning team’s man-of-the-match so there was a plenty to play for.
Despite this the first 15 minutes of the game were relatively uninspiring. The forwards trudged from scrum to scrum taking time to clean off the clay caked to their boots at each breakdown. The lineouts were a shambles. Horley’s throws weren’t straight and the ref bizarrely judged this to be due to the perfect weather conditions and awarded re-throws, whilst penalising Woking for dummy throws by hooker Rory Blundell, which only he had seen, much to the confusion of both sides. The only light for Woking in the opening play was a crunching tackle by outside centre Justin Dougherty on the Horley lock which sent the poor chap flying backwards 5 meters. When he recovered was awarded a very puzzling warning by the ref apparently for being tackled. Such would be the nature of the game.
Woking however held the dominancy in the scrums with the return of tight head Alisdair Hamilton-Wilkes and from this set piece they made inroads into the Horley half. A little chip kick by Captain Mike Aitchison over the defensive line which he collected neatly took them further up pitch until Horley were penalised for not releasing in the tackle. Unfortunately it was not Woking’s day as a penalty no15 Andy Hussey would have normally slotted easily was pushed wide. But further infringements by Horley resulted in another penalty for Woking and this time Adam Smith took a quick tap and crashed over the Horley line to open the scoring 0-5 with 20 minutes on the clock.
Horley came back with their scrumhalf calling 1 left, 1 right for crash balls from the back of the ruck and they so made their way up the pitch. Play cumulated in a line out just outside the Woking 5 meter line for Horley. They took it quickly and set up a rolling maul which Woking struggled to defend against. Their hooker Wayne Davies slipped over the try line behind his pack to score the home sides first points and Horley took the lead 7-5.
After the half time interval Horley came back with more of the same. Crash balls called out by their scrum half worked well for the home team and developed into some fierce rucking. A second rolling maul again from a line out set Horley up for a repeat of their first half manoeuvre, with no2 Wayne Davies picking up his second try of the afternoon and stretching their lead to 14-5.
As the game progressed into the second half a rather dubious yellow card was awarded to Horely’s no8 for repeated infringements at the breakdown, a decision which left both sides rather perplexed as to the reasoning of the ref. Unfortunately for Woking they were unable to capitalise on the 10 minute sin binning but instead picked up a strained calf muscle for flanker Jim McGiven which saw him hobble from the pitch.
With the relatively fresh legs of Jon Hursthouse back on the pitch Woking upped the pace of the game. Three crash balls to prop Mark Riddell, flanker Steve Rhodes and lock Jon Steadman drew in the defenders. Then taking massive strides over the strewn bodies like a baby giraffe just learning to walk, lock Matt Childs broke through the line leaving both packs seemingly stationary behind him. Had it not been for a text book tackle from the Horley fullback he would have been clean through. Woking kept the pressure on and quick ball from Callum Wogan at inside centre saw no10 Aitchison beat his opposite number with a neat little side step and put winger Tommy Roberts clean through. With 10 minutes to go Woking were back in the game 14-10.
But from the restart Woking were guilty of trying to force the play rather than work through the phases and keep the ball safe. A rather sloppy rushed pass was delivered right into the hands of Horley leaving them with the simple task of sprinting the length of the half relatively unopposed and finish the play with an inside pass to their supporting man-of-the-match no12 Mark Watson to put him over the try line and make the final score 19-10.
Captain Aitchison was far from pleased with Woking’s display ‘...A performance completely lacking in lustre and a huge disappointment. I expect us to get ruined at training this week’ were his brief but to the point comments after the game.