Woking v Old Oundelians

Match Date: 
Woking Team: 
First XV
Opponent Team: 
Old Oundelians


Woking Score: 
Opponent Score: 

Saturday saw the final league games for the Surrey 4 season. Old Oundelians were visitors to Woking, and having requested an enlarged bench, turned up with a full compliment due to it being the OO’s Annual Dinner. Woking were expecting a tough game, particularly in the knowledge the OO’s can put out a very strong side when they have the availability of players to do so. So from the off Woking looked to play hard and tight rugby, receiving the kick off the forward pods took it alternately left and right working their way up the from 22 to 22. As usual, Steve Rhodes was making strong ball carries, but it was the huge figure of big Ben Bremner who took several players to bring him down as he went on a rampage. Stopped just short of the try line it was the familiar poacher Rory Blundell who opened the scoring, the conversion missed from out wide by the normally reliable boot of Gareth Phillips.

Receiving the kick once more Woking followed the same phase patterns, keeping it tight. Mike Aitchison found Matt Armstrong, who took a beautiful line off his wing to smash through the flailing OO tackles. He drew the fullback in and placed Aitchison into some space, who beat the final two covering tacklers to score under the posts. A perfect start for Woking. From the next kick off the story repeated itself once more, but the OO defence found its organisation and the tackles began to rain in hard and fast. From a scrum on the half way line Woking secured the ball and Justin Dougherty put a great pass to Aitchison again in space. Spotting a gap behind an out of place winger, he put a grubber kick through and the eager Murphy hunted it down and got a hand on the ball before any other came close. 17-0, and things looked good.

OO’s suddenly turned up. The substitutes making an instant impact, particularly on the wing and in the front row. Getting their hands on the ball for almost the first time in the game as George Sayer just missed the intercept off the lineout, they orchestrated a lovely dummy scissors inside pop to the new winger who eased through a huge gap in the inside of the Woking defensive line to score untouched under the sticks. There was little that could be done other than stand and applaud the timing of the run and the deftness of the pass. The try gave Oundels a boost in confidence, and their tactic of barely defending for the first 20 minutes looked to give them an edge in fitness as the second half drew to a close. As the game became stretched both teams were throwing the ball around and playing some hugely attractive rugby. Callum Wogan made some powerful drives up the midfield, and Murphy was scything through, piling the pressure on the OO line. Some sloppy decision making from Woking players, clearly getting white line fever, saw OO’s solid defence turn the ball on the try line, and with a few wide passes and a clearing kick they picked up another try as the bounce defeated the Woking fullback and sat up nicely for OO to run in once more. 17-14 and Woking looked undone. To finish off the 1st half OO ran in another try past outstretched Woking tackles, and despite a few complaints on the refereeing decisions the score stood and the half closed at 17-21.

There have been few times in this season when Woking have gone in to half time behind. There were only two things to do, sure up the defence, and all out attack. Within the first minute of the second half Elliot Hood found Woking skipper Aitchison who glided and dummied his way through OO defence, placed a looping pass out to winger Matt Armstrong who once again showed great skill to slow up, draw his man and put Gareth Nearn in the corner to regain the lead at 22-21, but again the conversion was missed. Still, with hammer to the metal, Woking ran the receiving kick off back into OO’s 22, Hamilton-Wilkes this time taking it upon himself to pick and go and draw several OO backs into the ruck. Spotting the mis-match Aitchison dummied his way past the OO prop to score once more 29-21.

The 1st half then repeated itself. A few decisions went against Woking in the tight, a lack of line speed in the loose, and OO’s found themselves in space and running the ball for fun. Stretched and tired legs, coupled with Rory Blundell injured on the floor and Aitchison taken from the field after being cut in half from a superb tackle, saw Woking collapse. Dave Garvey took to the field and Wogan stepped in to the 10 channel and both did an excellent job in attacking, but the holes appeared in defence as Woking’s large centre units struggled to get hands on the nimbler OO backs. OO scored a couple of quick tries, Gareth Phillips injuring himself during the build up to one, and Woking looked to be on the back foot once more. The game finished off with OO putting the sword to the fixture from a number of silly penalties as Woking showed silly indiscipline, clearly in frustration. Despite a brief lift of the heads to score one further try, after excellent work from the work horses of Jon Hursthouse and Matt Brennan it was too little, too late.

A cracking game to have played in and watched, both teams really giving it their all at the end of a long season that has seen them crippled with injuries on a number of occasions. OO’s clearly showing their strength when they have players available, and Woking showing the importance of a consistent back row, despite the replacements doing an excellent job. Results elsewhere in the league confirmed that Woking finish in a solid 3rd place with Old Johnians and Old Haileyburians gaining promotion.

Coach Pete D’Cruz said after the game, “It has been a fantastic season to be involved with the club on and off the pitch. Some of the rugby this year has been outstanding, and with a little more consistency and luck things could have turned out slightly better. We will clearly be disappointed at not gaining promotion, but Surrey 4 is a notoriously difficult league to get out of unless you go undefeated. Talk of next season begins next week, and that will be the aim, an undefeated season is the only way to ensure we get ourselves out and keep building the club. We still have a cup to play for, and rest assured, we are gunning for it.”

1. Alisdaire Hamilton-Wilkes
2. Rory Blundell
3. Ben Bremner
4. Matt Brennan
5. Jon Hursthouse
6. Elliot Hood
7. Steve Rhodes
8. George Sayer
9. Justin dougherty
10. Mike Aitchison
11. Gareth Nearn
12. Neil Murphy
13. Calum Wogan
14. Matt Armstrong
15. Gareth Phillips

16. Dave Garvey
17. Mark Sargeson

MOM Mike Aitchison (Pete's choice, not mine!)