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Saturday's game against Horley saw an opportunity for Woking to set the score straight after their loss 19-12 earlier in the season. Both teams kindly sponsored by BMW as part of their grass roots rugby initiative meant that a BMW for a weekend for the man of the match, and a £200 bar tab for the winning side was up for grabs. Stakes were high!
Woking warmed up with enthusiasm, and there was a quiet confidence in the eyes of all players and spectators alike. Alas, with the first phases of play Horley forwards hit the ground running and smashed over the line for an early 7 point lead. Skipper Aitchison immediately rallied the troops under the posts and Woking came out firing on all cylinders! A magnificent lineout throw from Rory Blundell found the ever capable hands of Dan Hills, brought down into the midst of the Woking pack who heaved over the try line from 30 metres out! Hills touching down for 5-7. Horley responded well, and looked likely to score once more but for a scything tackle from Hills and a great ball turnover from Blundell and Matt Edwards. Justin Dougherty relieved the pressure with a massive boot up field, and with Woking turning over the lineout the Woking backs were unleashed for the first time that day.
Callum Wogan, instrumental throughout the game with his powerful ball carries, sucked the defence in before Dougherty from 10 found a beautifully weighted pass into the hands of Andy Hussey who finished off with style in the corner for a fantastic team try! 10-7.
The wind clearly in Woking's sails, Dan shills gathered from the restart and popped a delightful offload to the rampaging Phil Robertson. With the wrecking ball Marc Riddell at his side the two tore a path of devastation through the Horley ranks. From the ensuing chaos burst Mike Aitchison, stepping around the Horley defence untouched before splitting the fullback and wing with new-found pace to score under the sticks, converted by Hussey. 17-7.
A similar pattern of play from the kick-off saw one of the best team tries of the season. The forward pack taking two phases of crash balls, led by Matt Brennan and Jon Hursthouse, before a flurry of handling skills from Hills, and Wogan found Aitchison. Who slipped through a gap and placed the ball into Hussey to run under the posts and convert himself. 24-7.
Woking, as is so often frustratingly the case, took their foot off the gas, and a resurgent Horley scored a well-constructed try to close the 1st half at 24-12. Strong words of encouragement from Al Hamilton-Wilkes at half time clearly fired the Woking boys up for the 2nd half as they once again came out firing!
Rory Blundell, a hooker making a habit of scintillating runs down the wing, took a more direct approach on this occasion, smashed through and over the confused Horley winger. Gareth Nearn in close support did an excellent job of securing the ball, as he did all game in a fine performance, before Tommy Roberts got his hands on the ball and dashed down the wing with panache, to be bundled into touch just short of the line.
Another Woking turnover at the lineout saw Dan Edwards, brought on to replace the injured Dougherty, gather in space and carve his way through for another 5 points, converted by Hussey 31- 12. Dan Edwards quickly followed up with a second try down the blind side with a wonderful interlink from Matt Armstrong, who cut in continuously with effect throughout the 2nd half! 36-12.
Another brief resurgence from the commendable opposition saw Horley pull a try back, but at 36-17 it felt a little too late to change the game. James Bannister at scrum half was in fine form, marshalling his forwards like a five star general, and came just short of pinching a try for himself, before a quickly fired pass cut out the Horley defence and have man of the match Callum Wogan some space to show the dancing skills of a bulldozer and cross the line for his long overdue first try at the club! Again converted by Hussey 43-17.
The final play of the game summed up all that Woking have been trying to achieve from the start of the season. A phenomenal scrum, providing a pick and go for Pack leader Phil Robertson. Ball secured by the back row of Matt Edwards and Dan Hills. A rampaging battering ram of a run from Hamilton-Wilkes, Riddell and Blundell, and a quick ball through the hands of all backs to Gary Raife, who actually caught it, and recycled from the tackle area. Dan Edwards commanded the ball from Bannister, placed a fantastic pass to Dan Hills who broke the line and offloaded in the tackle to Aitchison who stepped around the floundering fullback to score under the posts and convert himself to close a great team performance at 50-17.
No words were needed after the match. The smiles on the Woking players and supporters faces alike said it all. A great day at Woking RFC!
Thanks must be given to Horley who made admirable opposition and played in the true spirit of rugby. Also to Vines of Guildford for their kind sponsorship of the club this season, and the game that day.