Raynes Park v Woking

Match Date: 
Woking Team: 
First XV
Opponent Team: 
Raynes Park


Woking Score: 
Opponent Score: 

Woking travelled to a very boggy and uneven pitch at Raynes Park Sports Ground on Saturday for the quarter final of the Surrey Bowl competition. The last time the two sides met led to a scrappy game and a number of cards, not least a red for skipper Mike Aitchison. Woking were expecting another physical encounter, but with a more experienced referee the physicality was kept well within the laws of the game. From the kick off there were some huge tackles, Raynes Park defence holding very strong under early Woking pressure. The wind was strong and swirling, making the kicking game a challenge. This played into the hands of Woking as it took the huge boot of Raynes Park largely out of the game.

Fresh faced Joe Bennett was eager to impress, filling the boots of the absent Dan Hills, and he made a number of powerfully surging runs creating space out wide. Aitchison and Robertson distributed the ball well, and McGiven, in at centre for the day, was his usual hard and abrasive self taking players with him in both attack and defence. First points of the day went to Raynes Park, after a silly infringement from the eagerness of Bennett to get his hands on the ball. The kick was slotted. A number of minutes later a similar situation arose and Raynes Park took the lead to 6 – 0.

Strong words from Mike Aitchison clearly drifted away on the wind as the Woking penalty count crept up. Despite making huge inroads deep into Raynes Park territory the final phases fell apart as white line fever took over. After several attempts Woking finally crossed the whitewash through a strong carry from Hamilton-Wilkes who offloaded nicely to Bennett to crash over. Taking his time with the conversion attempt, Aitchison had the kick charged down to the wonderment and bemusement of all involved. Moments later, just on the stroke of half time he corrected this error slotting a penalty to take Woking in to the half time leading 6 – 8.

Woking were in ascendency all over the pitch, and a rousing half time team talk from the ever present Steve Rhodes was snuffled out by a shocking first half restart from Aitchison, who was having a truly mixed bag with the boot. Fortunately the Woking scrum was on form, Matt Armstrong doing a fantastic job in the absence of Rory Blundell. Woking retained the ball and set off down the field once more. Another huge break from Joe Bennett was halted just short of the 22, but a deft offload for a man of his size put the ball into the tiny hands of James Bannister who scurried over the line out wide to put Woking comfortably in the lead 6 – 13 after another missed conversion.

The game became scrappy. Raynes Park clearly chasing for points and attempting to ruffle some feathers in a repeat of the previous encounter. A number of fracases on the floor led to the dismissal of Steve Rhodes and the RP no. 5, both rather unfairly dismissed it must be said. The referee regained control of the game through this act and the balance of play returned to favour Woking. Aitchison had a much better game ball in hand, gradually returning to form after injury, and was posing threat from all areas of the pitch. The Raynes Park back row did an excellent job of boxing the threat, but the spaces were appearing outside the 10 channel as a result. Jon Hursthouse made a colossus run through open space off a pop from Aitchison, and great rucking from Gareth Nearn secured quick ball. James Webber got in on the action linking up nicely with Phil Robertson, before big Ben Bremner went for a rumble himself. Raynes Park defence was left in tatters, and Joe Bennett gave the final blow, being once more dragged down just short. Bannister, sniping, threw a dummy to no one and crossed the line once more to close the game at 6 – 18.

A challenging game, a challenging pitch, and a solid cup win for the club. On to the semi-finals to face either Reigate or Becs old Boys. Man of the match, James Bannister.

1. Alisdaire Hamilton-Wilkes
2. Matt Armstrong
3. Ben Bremner
4. Matt Brennan
5. Jon Hursthouse
6. Adam Smith
7. Steve Rhodes
8. Joe Bennett
9. James Bannister
10. Mike Aitchison
11. Gareth Nearn
12. Phil Robertson
13. Jim McGiven
14. James Webber
15. Neil Murphy
16. Tom Smith
17. Josh Parker
18. Dave Garvey