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With a side including several changes due to injuries and work commitments, Woking welcomed Horley to Byfleet recreation ground. Horley who are currently top of Surrey 4 would be a completely different side who lost 61-0 to Woking at Byfleet last season and the Woking squad were prepared for what they knew would be a tough game.
Woking started action, kicking against the wind. The early exchanges were tight with both defences holding firm. It may have been a sign of nerves but both sides gave away silly penalties for infringements & it looked like Woking may make inroads to the game here. However the resulting lineout in Horley's 22 was judged to be not straight giving Horley the scrum.
It looked like Woking were going to be the first to score. The Horley 10 used the wind to field a deep kick collected by full back Seb Murphy. Murphy who is argubly the quickest man in the club broke down the right beating 3 men. It looked like Woking would open the scoring, however a huge effort from the Horley 10 meant he caught Murphy and brought him down a metre short of the line. From here Woking continued to pile on the pressure and eventually won another penalty. Captain Rory Blundell called up outside half Mark Rose to go for the posts. Unfortunately with the swirling wind, the kick was just wide and Horley had chance to clear their lines.
After failing to convert pressure into points, it was now time for Horley to ask questions of the Woking defence. Some strong runs from the Horley back and second rows caused cracks in the Woking defence and a mismatch appeared in midfield allowing their centre to crash through and dot down under the posts, the easy conversion making it 7-0. Although captain Rory Blundell emphasised that his men needed to keep composure, nerves looked like they started to creep in as Horley again took advantage of disorganisation in defence with some smart running to score an additional 2 tries taking the score to 21-0.
From the kick off Woking instantly went on the offence, managing to turn over the ball from the kick off. Scrum half Callum Wogan and centre Matt Armstrong hit the Horley defence with everything and several times almost broke through. However the damage was done as they took several men with them and it was now the forwards turn to attack with short tight balls. The reward came when hooker & captain Rory Blundell crashed over for the try. Horley hit back with another try to seal the bonus point, however it would be Woking who finished the scoring for the first half. Pressure from the forwards led to openside flanker David Garvey performing a Houdini act to score in the corner.
HT – Woking 10 Horley 26
With the score at the end of the first half and the wind now in their favour, Woking were confident for the second half. Play started well with the forwards making some good yards complimented by Armstrong and Wogan smashing through the midfield. Woking were close to getting a third try early on, a penalty for Woking resulted in a line out near the Horley line. The Woking forwards continued to pressurise and prop Matt Shephard was judged to have been held up. Unfortunately small mistakes started to creep in again and Horley made good use of their outside half to clear the lines. Despite not getting a try during this period, Woking closed the gap to 13 points with a penalty from Mark Rose.
Horley from the kick off came back at Woking and started to use their forwards again to try and break holes in the defence. Poor discipline gave Horley the advantage and they took the lineout several times to try and get the fifth try. At this point every Woking player stood up and put in a fine defensive display, Horley had no answer to this and it was Matt Armstrong who won a penalty for Woking to ease the pressure.
The second half continued to be played in a scrappy manner by both sides with neither side being able to make the break needed. At this point Woking went down to 14 men, Mark Rose being shown a yellow for a high tackle. Horley opted for the safe option taking the 3 points to make the score 29-13. Frustration started to show for both sides and it was this ill discipline which gave Woking their next opportunity. A punch thrown by a Horley back row player at David Garvey resulted in a penalty which Mark Rose, back from the sin bin put to touch. From here replacement second row Shaun Gilbert took the ball to allow Woking to start a rolling maul. It was captain Blundell who managed to get his hands on the ball to crash over for the try. Rose with an excellent conversion made the score 29-20. Woking went on the hunt in the last few minutes for the fourth try which would give the bonus point but it was not to be and Horley saw out the remaining seconds to hold the score to 29-20.
Coach Pete D'Cruz commented “Firstly, congratulations to Horley. With their win today and the other results, it looks like their place in Surrey 3 is sewn up for next season. Today was the story of our season with defence and discipline letting us down at key moments. I've had words with the players about commitment levels and we'll continue to build as a squad, both 1sts and 2nds starting on Tuesday in preparation for next weeks games.”
Matt Shepherd, Rory Blundell, Jordan Mayes, Matthew Brennan, Jon Hursthouse, Phil James Nash, David Garvey, Mark Sargeson, Callum Wogan, Mark Rose, Neil Murphy, Matt Armstrong, Chris Wallis, James Bannister, Seb Murphy, Alisdair Hamilton-Wilkes, Benjamin Dinsdale, Shaun Gilbert
Tries: Blundell x2, Garvey. Conv: Rose. Pen: Rose