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Woking travelled away to Mitcham for their Surrey Cup match on Saturday 10th Jan. Mitcham being from the league above, Woking were expecting a tough game and set off brightly from the kick off. If not for a large number of last ditch infringements from Mitcham’s forward pack Woking would have probably gone clear in the lead within the first 20 minutes, but penalty after penalty slowed Woking advances down. The weather conditions wet and very windy coupled with the absence of reliable goal kicker Andy Hussey meant that Woking opted to scrum from penalties rather than go for points. Callum Wogan provided a human battering ram time after time, and eventually this created space for Dan Hills to collect a long looping pass from Mike Aitchison and stretch out an arm in the corner. The conversion was missed, almost blowing backwards.
Woking’s pack absolutely dominated, and as the Mitcham pack scrambled to get a foothold on the game they conceded further penalties promting threats from the referee of sin bins if it continued. Mitcham, clearly out played, resorted to a nasty streak which threw the Woking players as they received a number of black eyes. Woking’s discipline was excellent, and after one such clash the Mitcham 9 was sent from the field. Woking capitalised instantly with a penalty try under the posts converted by Aitchison. The sides went in at half time 0-12.
Mitcham’s dogged determination continued into the second half, Jon Hursthouse feeling the brunt of a knee to the face and having to leave the field provided yet another yellow card for Mitcham, but Woking failed to take advantage. As the wind dropped Mitcham no. 10 and skipper produced a series of deft kicks into space which caught Woking unawares and Mitcham got onto the score board. The missed conversion was shortly cancelled out as an excellent tackle from Dan Edwards gave Steve Rhodes an opportunity of a turnover, but Woking’s scramble defence as deemed illegal and Mitcham converted for 3 points.
The majority of possession was held by Woking, and it would have remained one way traffic but for some excellent play from the Mitcham fullback. Gareth Nearn on the wing was tearing holes through Mitchams defence, and after a botched cross field kick from Aitchison trying to find Nearn, the Mitcham fullback gathered the ball and ran the length of the field to score a questionably grounded try in the bottom corner of the pitch. Despite the protest from Woking players and the touch judge, the referee awarded the try in favour of the attacking team (very rugby league) and Mitcham took the lead 13-12.
A final flurry from Woking in the remaining 10 minutes resulted in a number of chances. Ben Bremner grounding the ball over the line only to be undone by “obscured view”. Throwing all caution to the wind Woking pushed for the winning points, but Mitcham stood resolute, receiving another yellow card for illegal play, but ultimately scoring a breakaway try down the right wing to close the game at 18-12.
Coach Pete D’Cruz commented, “Our forwards were immense on a day where weather conditions did not suit out backs. Man of the match Marc Riddell was everywhere, closely followed by fellow front row Rory Blundell, and this really drove our team all game. A bitterly disappointing result from a match that was there to be won, but there are certainly positives to be taken from a gutsy performance against opposition from the league above.”