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Streatham and Croydon II v Woking II
Saturday 06th December
Woking II XV braved the bitter cold and the early Christmas shoppers to head on the long journey to Streatham and Croydon II XV with a make shift side due to absenteeism. Maybe it was the excitement of the festive period, some controlling wives or girlfriends or the cold but a number of Woking backs seemed to have entered hibernation this weekend. Upon arrival Woking were informed that the referee had cancelled and a local player would be taking charge - not a positive sign. However Woking took to the pitch wearing the 1st team kit due to some over eagerness resulting in both the 1st & 2nd team kit making the journey to Streatham!
As the game got underway it became apparent that the Woking number 9 Ross Cahalane who'd arrived straight from his work's Christmas party was seemingly still drunk! Streatham however started brightly and had the early territory buoyed by a lack of discipline by the visitors at the breakdown which they capitalised on. Some odd decision making hampered Woking but the defence stayed resolute with some great tackles from new centre Matt Edwards, on an experimental trial from the front row. At the breakdown the Woking pack asserted its usual command whenever possible but Streatham eventually managed to break the line crossing for a try but failed to add the conversion.
Woking replied immediately playing some good rugby with the ball in hand and the backs making solid breaks. But as the first half progressed the game turned into a stalemate of Streatham attacks with Woking continually being penalised by Streatham's 16th man for minor offences. This broken play caused Woking to loose shape and concentration and eventually allowed in a weak try under the posts. After 30minutes on the clock it looked like a long afternoon ahead for Woking, Streatham 12 - Woking 0.
Whilst regrouping some strong words were shouted at the Woking side by captain Williams. A toned down version being circumstances can't be changed leaving two choices for the Woking squad: play soccer players or take the game to the opposition in the Woking way.
With 10 minutes of the first half left on the clock Woking seemed revitalised by these words and began to dominate the game exploiting the weak rucking of Streatham in a fair way ensuring possession was retained. With this change in play came the visitors first penalty of the afternoon accompanied by a sarcastic cheer from Matt Brennan on the side lines, sporting a matching festive hat and scarf. Woking opted for the scrum much to the grunts, moans and expletives of the opposition. This scrum followed the pattern of the day with the only question being how fast and far could the Woking pack push Streatham - not if. As the pack heaved and strained the try line came into sight and big Phil Bennett smashed over and with a successful conversion by number 10 Shane Connaughton the half time score was Streatham 12 - Woking 7.
Half time rang the changes for Woking with Martin Phillips, Josh ‘penalty’ Parker, and Srini joining the pack. The second half continued as the first had finished with Woking taking the game to Streatham and dominating play. The only Streatham chance in the first 10minutes came from a careless penalty given away in front of the posts. Only one man could be responsible for this infringement - the ever over excited posh boy Mr. Penalty Parker himself. This allowed Streatham to stretch their lead to 8 points.
With the restart Woking went full pelt at the home side whose reactions on any other day would have resulted in a flurry of yellow if not red cards. Woking however were just awarded penalty after penalty as they edged up the pitch. One of these brought some unexpected inspiration from Shane Connaughton who placed a 40 metre cross field kick into the arms of winger Gareth Nearn who weaved his way up the field to score under the posts. Woking converted the extras to make it 15 - 14 with 20 to go.
Woking fought their way deep into the Streatham half who had to resort to kicks to clear their lines, but as Woking pushed on and spread play gaps opened up. A Streatham breakaway from deep in their own half should have been halted by Jason Williams massacred an easy tackle to allow Streatham to break up the field and score a try which they converted. Woking continued to fight hard but the toils of the day had taken their toll, another penalty given away by Josh Parker saw the lead grown to 10 points from which Woking never recovered. Final score Streatham 25 v Woking 14.
After the game Captain Williams stated “the elements were against us today but we played well. We came into this league looking to play hard rugby and all in all today we put in a fantastic display against a very good side with a very good defensive line.” Then with a wry smile he added “we’re relishing the return fixture already.”
If interested in playing some good hard social rugby then please e-mail Woking’s II XV captain to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org
Woking XV: Pearce, Buckley, Hamilton Wilkes(Srini), Williams (C), Lovell, Gilbert, Dinsdale(Phillips), Bennett(Penalty Parker), Cahalane, Collins, Edwards, Siddons, Nearn, Wallis
Unused subs: Hammond, Grady
Man of the match: Gareth Nearn – showed great character and resilience to play. Proved it where it counted the most with a storming performance.
Dick of day: It has to be the man who picked up the 1st team kit, but being a team that doesn’t tell tales he shall remain nameless.