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Cranleigh 2nd XV v Woking 2nd XV
Saturday 20th December
Whilst the majority of the Woking players had been pressganged into shopping by their wives or partners, a few of the older faces were wise enough to escape the house for a game of rugby. With that in mind a side of 2’s players with the odd first team player who had been brave to escape made the trip to Cranleigh RFC for a club game against their 2’s with a few from their 1’s and 3’s.
It was a glorious mild winter’s day with the low sun beaming over the pitch reflecting off the boggy puddles. Woking won the toss and elected to play with the wind behind them. A good game commenced with both sides playing structured rugby with fierce competition at the break down. Woking seemed to have been the more socially active team in the week and their Christmas celebrations caused them to make careless mistakes handing Cranleigh an advantage which was exploited over and over again. The usual suspect lead the Woking penalty count tally - the infamous “Posh Josh Penalty Parker” and he seemed to be aiming for a personal best as the words “red 7” were muttered time and time again by the referee for almost every conceivable violation of the law.
As the game progressed the penalty count cost Woking dearly as a good break from the back of a maul saw Cranleigh scoot over to score under the posts and take a 7 - 0 lead. This score however seemed to install some fight into Woking who made some good play through the forwards and picked up advantage of their own from Cranleigh's repeated infringements. On the 22 Woking won a line out which saw Parker rise into the air and feed the ball off the top to Matt Armstrong at 9. The ball was swiftly spun out to the backs through the hands of Justin Dougherty, Richard Grady and to Tom Smith who broke though the defence supported by Gareth Nearn who'd run a superb line from the wing to take the switch pass and score under the posts. Woking tied the game at 7 all.
Almost immediately Cranliegh reacted as the game entered into a midfield battle between the two sides. Good tackles were made and the front five of Woking – Nathan Buckley, Alisdair Hamilton Wilkes, Srini, Jon Hursthouse and Jason Williams secured the ball at the rucks. Powerful runs from the back row gained Woking territory. Woking's scrum had also come alive and Cranleigh struggled scrummaging against the dominant pack. From the back of one scrum and 15 metres out, number 8 Matt Edwards picked up and surged forward. With a sidestep to the left he was tackled but broke loose and continued on his way. But with a mere half a metre more to the line and a clear run the excitement proved all too much for him and he tripped and fell over spilling the ball. However Woking turned the ball over from the ensuing scrum and regained possession. It was quickly spread wide to prop Buckley but he had been watching too much TV and went for the high chip kick over the defence which Cranleigh easily gathered and cleared to safety.
Within minutes Woking were 20 metres out again and again won the scrum against the head. As they surged forwards certain to cross the line, Cranliegh collapsed the scrum. Woking, sensing blood elected to scrummage again. With Woking's forwards driving Cranleigh back at great speed, it was inevitable that a try or a penalty try would come Wokings way. But then that man Penalty Parker realised he could ruin everything in one foul swoop and decided to cuddle the Cranleigh 9. With this Cranleigh took the ball and broke down their line. With some good play they were easily able to cross Woking's try line and retake the lead 12 - 7.
Woking replied almost immediately however. Good forward play saw their pack break down the Cranleigh defence and put Edwards in for an easy try. This time he managed to keep his footing, through a dummy and crossed the line to make the half time score 12 - 12.
With substitutions made at the break the game recommenced into the same hard battle as the first half. Cranleigh scored first through a strong run and break through before Woking equalised with a interception pass by Dan Edwards making it 17 - 17.
The majority of the second half was played in the middle of the pitch with neither team threatening a score. Any work impotence was quickly nullified by the actions of Penalty Parker who by this point had amassed more penalties than all the Woking squad combined. With 20 minutes on the clock go Smith and Raife had clearly decided that they had both played enough rugby and head on collision was due which they executed with great finesse. The reshuffle that followed their departure saw forwards joining the backs as wingers and Woking battled on. But with 10 minutes of play left Cranleigh crossed the line to what proved to be the winning try with Woking never really threatened again. The game ended Cranleigh 22 - 17 Woking.
Quaffing port in the changing rooms Woking 2nd XV Captain Williams commented “It was on the whole a good performance and a few 2nd team players have given the 1st team captain a few selection issues to mull over the break. We can only live in hope that Father Christmas leaves Penalty Parker a Rugby Law Book in his stocking for Christmas. This has been a great year for the club and we’re looking forward to 2015.”
Woking Side: Hamilton Wilkes, Buckley(Pip), Srini (Bremner), Williams, Hurtshouse(Riddell), Brennan(Dinsdale), Parker (Gilbert), Edwards, Armstrong, Dougherty, Nearn(Edwards), Grady, Smith, Raife.
Man of the Match: Matthew Brennan – a great display and work ethic, with some hard tackling.
D**k of the Day: Posh Josh Penalty Parker – like having a puppy on the field. Full of enthusiasm and energy but at times he has no control over what he is doing!