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In a break from league action, Woking travelled to Merton of Surrey 3 for the quarter final of the Surrey Bowl. Woking attacked downhill in the first half and got the action started through 10 and captain for the day Mark Rose. The early exchanges in open play were evenly balanced with neither side being able to make the crucial break. Woking secured some strong possession through the scrums and the line outs, Jon Hursthouse standing in to throw and hitting Dan Hills and Matthew Brennan in the line. It would be late in the first half until the first score and Merton hit first. Woking were unable to secure loose ball and some nice play between Merton forwards and backs cut apart the Woking defence and allowed them to cross, conversion missed making it 5-0 Merton. Woking went straight back on the offensive and kept play tight through the forwards which allowed hooker Alasdair Hamilton-Wilkes to crash over from short range, Rose with the extras took the score to 7-5. From the kick off, Woking again failed to secure possession and Merton were ruthless in taking advantage crossing for a second score. Again conversion was missed and score was now 10-7. Woking went on the attack again in the last few minutes and full back Tom Smith was stopped just short. Merton saw out the half to keep the core 10-7.
Woking continued their attacking play into the second half with strong running from prop Jordan Mayes and openside Dan Hills taking Woking deep into the Merton half. The forwards work created good possession for the backs and some Barbarian style play from Gareth Nearn, Evan Marchant and Tom Smith allowed Smith to cross in the corner, Rose was unlucky to miss the conversion to take the score to 12-7. Woking went straight back upfield from the off and secured a penalty for Merton slowing down possession illegally. Rose opted for the posts to take the score to 15-10. It was Merton who struck next, a break from their centre allowed the space and it was their No8 who managed to squeeze in for the score to equalise, the extras were missed so the score remained 15 all.
Woking were forced into a change with Shawn Gilbert receiving a boot to the eye and a nasty cut meaning Tom Smith coming into second row and Danny Collins coming on the wing. Woking reverted to the successful formula of the first half, keeping possession tight through the forwards and using the set piece to great effect. This paid off again and this time blindside flanker Josh Parker crossed from a metre out, Mark Rose with a tricky conversion took the score to 22-15. With 10 minutes remaining, it looked like Woking could pull off an upset, however Merton were to have a say in the game. Woking continued to attack and it looked like Mark Rose had crashed over for another try which would have made it 27-15. However the referee judged double movement and the resulting penalty took Merton downfield and confusion in defence allowed their 10 to go underneath the posts, an easy conversion equalised to 22 all. Still in the game, Woking went back upfield. However earlier in the game the referee had warned both sides about discipline at the breakdown and this cost Woking, Josh Parker despite desperate shouts from his teammates failed to release the tackler at the breakdown which gave Merton the penalty and 10 minutes in the sin bin for Parker. From here Merton went downfield and some nice play from their backline despite somelast ditch tackles from the Woking cover defence allowed their winger to score, the kicker taking the extras. Woking went desperately hunting for the score that would take the tie to extra time but it was not to be and Merton saw out the game to progress to the semi finals.
Captain Mark Rose commented after the game “I can't fault the effort the boys put in today. We knew this would be a hard game and injuries meant guys who normally wouldn't be in the 1's got their chance. Every man from 1 to 18 stood up and gave 100% effort and it was just a bit of inexperience and bad luck that cost us today. I'm confident if we can play like that in the last remaining league games, we can get back to winning ways.”
Scorers: Hamilton-Wilkes, Smith, Parker. Conv: Rose x2. Pen: Rose
Simon "Puff" Power, Alisdair Hamilton-Wilkes, Jordan Mayes, Jon Hursthouse, Matthew Brennan, Josh Parker, Dan Hills, Shaun Gilbert, Ross Cahalane, Mark Rose, Gary Flash Freeman, Joe Wolf Wright, Evan Marchant, Gareth Nearn, Tom Smith, Marc McGiven, Daniel Collins, Matt Shepard