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With newly promoted Woking 2nd XV currently topping their league, Woking 1st XV were relishing the opportunity to put one over on their league leaders Reeds Weybridge & take revenge for the away fixture loss earlier in the season. With this in mind Woking opted for the formidable prop pairing of Alisdair Hamiltion-Wilkes & big Ben Bremner to flank hooker Rory Blundell, take dominancy in the scrums & provide a secure platform for set piece play.
From the off Woking took the upper hand with strong running of the kick off ball back at Reeds, working through the phase play until deep in the opposition half. Flanker Matt Brennan made a break just inside the 22m line. Handing off the Reeds defender he offloaded to screaming scrumhalf Matt Edwards in support & Woking's number 8 Phil Robertson crashed over under a mountain of bodies to open the score 5-0 with only 4 mins on the clock.
Reeds restarted & the ensuing confusion over who collected the kick was finally cleared up in magnificent form from Woking's second row David Nolan who produced a wading run through the Reeds defensive tackles to make the 10m line before being brought down. However Woking were finally deemed to be over eager in their quest to dominate play & conceded a penalty handing Reeds their first real touch of the ball in 7 minutes of play.
From the lineout Reeds demonstrated the free-flowing running rugby which sees them at the top of Surrey 4 and it was only ferocious defensive tackling by the home side that kept them at bay. A clearing kick by captain Aitchison is run back into the Woking half with gusto. Reeds look dangerous until a second Aitchison clearing kick is poorly defended by the Reeds fullback & the ball bounced into touch for a Woking lineout just short of the 22m.
A knock on from the lineout sees the game's first scrum awarded in favour of Reeds & provides the perfect opportunity to test the strength of the Woking pack. As the ball entered the scrum you could visibly see the pack tense & strain as they tightened together & then shunted the Reeds pack back & off the ball. Centre Callum Wogan crashed through the rush defence & with the ball quickly recycled Woking cross the Reeds whitewash in a pile of bodies. Big Ben Bremner emerges from the thick of it clutching the ball although who actually touched down is anybody's guess (claimed by Phil Robertson I believe), 10-0.
Reeds restarted & up the antis spinning the ball deftly through the hands & offloading cleanly to keep it alive. Their play cumulated with a fine run down the left hand wing & as Woking struggled to defend Reeds picked up an easy 5 points in the corner, 10-5 with 22mins on the clock.
Captain Aitchison pushed the Woking restart deep into the Reeds 22 but they ran the ball back with vigour. With space out on the right wing & the home crowd desperately calling for cover, Woking seemed oblivious as Reeds exploited & it's only a crunching cover tackle by Woking's no8 Robertson that put the Reeds winger into touch for a lineout just inside the 10m line. Further great play from Reeds saw their back line cutting through the home side defence and a fantastic line picked out by their no10 put him clean in under the posts. Reeds took the lead 10-12.
The Woking pack clearly demonstrated their dominancy of the afternoon ruling the scrummage area and not allowing Reeds any clean ball from this set piece. On one such occasion a Woking scrum on the Reeds 5m line looked sure to end in a score for the home side had the ref not ruled that the ball was knocked on before being touched down over the line. This only fuelled the home side pack though & as Reeds put the ball into their scrum they were propelled backwards at a rate of knots & Woking gathered the ball & touched down cleanly this time for a 15-12 score to take the lead again.
The final play of the half was also with Woking as a loop ball between Aitchison, Dan Hills, back to Aitchison brought him just inches short of the Reeds line. Hooker Blundell picked up from the back of the ruck, feigned a pass out wide, stepped inside & was tackled as he crossed the line making the half time score 20-12.
Woking started the second half with a fine hanging kick by Aitch which was neatly collected by Woking flanker Adam Smith who led the play crashing up to the Reeds 22m. Unfortunately the Woking pack were unable to capitalise & Reeds turned play back to the Woking half. From a solid lineout set piece, Reeds let the ball do the work, spinning it through their backs hands & complimented by a number of missed tackles from the home side, ran in a score next to the posts making the score 20-19 4mins into the second half.
Moments later Woking return to the Reeds try line initiated with fine turn over ball by prop Hamilton-Wilks. The ball was quickly shipped to the backs & Hussy put a teasing chip kick into space behind the Reeds defensive line. Chased franticly up the line by Woking winger Gareth Nearn, hounded by two Reeds defenders on either side & with the screams of the home crowd willing him on, the ball narrowly rolled dead tantalisingly only a mere inch or so in front of him.
Trying to pin Reeds deep in their own half Woking put in another chip kick only a few minutes later but this time it was well defended. Reeds ran the ball back at Woking & with good support play & a couple of missed tackles the ball was offloaded into space & the Reeds full back went over for an easy lead-taking score, 20-24 50mins on the clock.
A further score for Reeds came on the 70min mark as they were awarded a scrum on their 22 from a Woking knock on. Woking again took the upper hand & smashed the opposition pack backwards. Somehow though the Reeds scrum half emerged with the ball & put in a clearing kick which was charged down by his opposite number. Neatly collected by Woking's Hills who looked to be clean through all bar a shrill blast from the ref's whistle, play was called back for an off side infringement. Reeds took the penalty quickly, put their winger into the smallest of spaces on their left wing & he slipped through the tackles to scoot 30m up the pitch for an unbelievable score in the left hand corner, 20-29.
5 minutes later & with 5 minutes left on the clock Woking reduce the deficit determined not to let the game slip away. Good combination play between Captain Aitchison, second row John Stedman & replacement prop Mark Riddell brought them inches short of the Reeds try line. Play was momentarily hauled for a knock on with Reeds advantage but the advantage was relatively short lived. With 'pushover' cries from the crowd to incite the Woking pack, the Reeds pack was pushed backwards at a rate & with the turnover conceded the ball fell again to hooker Blundell who picked up his second score of the afternoon, 25-29.
However at the 79 minute mark Reeds run a defensive kick back at Woking from within their 22, shipping the ball through the hands & out to the wing. Strong running put their winger in the clear & he crossed for the final score of the afternoon, 25-34.
Captain Aitch commented after the game, 'I'm immensely proud of the team performance, we stuck to our game plan and very nearly turned over a well drilled side. They deserve to be at the top of the league and we wish them well for next season. We'll be following them up with more performances like that!'