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It really was a tale of 2 half's as Woking seconds made the trip over to South London to take on old rivals Mitcham. It was touch and go whether Woking could raise a side for the second teams opening fixture with injuries and holidays causing a number of absentees for the club but 16 men travelled over. It was Mitcham who were struggling for numbers and both Gary Freeman and Ted Beneke got a runout for Mitcham before even making their Woking debuts to even things up.
Woking started the first few minutes strongly through the forwards and showed their intentions with the first scrum. It looked like a strange decision early on when Jamie Owens kicked away possession in midfield, however it was an inspired move as James Plowright was quickly there to put pressure on the fullback who fumbled and Plowright scrambled over from a metre out for the first points of the game.
The first half was solid rugby with forwards setting up a couple of phases as well as a great platform off the scrum which included numerous balls won against the head to create tries for Ben Dinsdale, Shane Connaughton, Nathan Buckley and a second for James Plowright. Dinsdale was exceptional in the loose with several turnovers and was a huge loss late in the first half while chasing a chipped through ball. On the rare occasions Mitcham attacked the first half, Woking showed fine work in defence to keep their opponents out until half time.
The message at half time was to tighten things up and to keep Mitcham from scoring. Re-reinforcements had now arrived for Mitcham so Gary Freeman and Ted Beneke got to make their Woking debuts. However it was Mitcham who got first blood with an early strike, employing the tactics of using the poor conditions and kicks through to cause chaos at the back. Mitcham struck soon after for the second time and it was down to new captain Colin Pearce to rouse the troops and get things functioning again. Woking continued to be put under pressure by Mitcham until Woking struck back with a fine effort. Woking won the 5 metre scrum against the head. Danny Collins fed to Jamie Owens who switched blind and used the overlap to put James Plowright away for a length of the field effort for his hat trick.
Despite the try against the run in play, Mitcham game back and took advantage of both tired legs and the mis-communications amongst some of the less experienced Woking players grabbing a couple more tries. At this point, Woking were in real danger of letting this game slip from their grasp. However Woking managed to slow down and secure the game in the last five minutes which lead to them making their way down the field. With time up on the clock, Woking were awarded a penalty which captain Colin Pearce took on and second row Matthew Brennan quickly cleared out to provide quick ball for Danny Collins. This resulted in prop Adam Hammond, back from an 18 month absence crashing over from short range to seal the victory for the visitors.
Following the game, captain Colin Pearce commented "I'm very pleased with today overall. Mitcham is never an easy place to travel to and with a lot of inexperience in the side, it made the challenge greater. The first half we played some great rugby but the second half, we showed that we need to keep switched on and have a lot to work on".
MoM: James Plowright