London French RFC 32 vs

Woking RFC 3

Woking RFC failed to make it a hat trick of Surrey Counties 5 victories as they came out second best to London French in Barnes. With both sides level on points in the league Woking travelled with confidence having won their previous two matches, although frustratingly were only able to name a squad of 16 due to injury and unavailability.

Woking kicked off but was the hosts who took control of the early exchanges as they looked to move the ball out wide at every opportunity. However, solid Woking defence and poor handling from the London French backline in tricky conditions meant the early storm was weathered without too much of a scare.

Gradually, the Woking forwards started to get on top dominating the scrums and winning penalties at the breakdown thanks to good play from the back row of Jake Sines, Jacob Woods, and Josh Claydon. However, for all the good work and getting into their opponent’s half it was undone by Woking’s inability to win their own line out ball at crucial times. Things got worse when Woking lost back row Jake Sines to ankle injury which led to another reshuffle of the pack.

Mid way through the half the French scored their first try through a combination of some good interplay between forwards and backs as well as some poor Woking defence. The conversion was missed but a penalty was added a couple of minutes later to extend the lead of the French.

Fired up Woking enjoyed their best period of the half as skipper Woods and player of the match Josh Claydon along with prop Joe Griggs took the fight to the French with some hard and direct carries that punched holes in their opponent’s defence. As the pressure-built London French conceded a penalty in front of the posts for offside at the ruck and Mark Rose obliged to get Woking on the board.  

On the stroke of half time Woking conceded again as a more good interplay between forwards and backs kept the ball away from the strength of the Woking pack and resulted in a third try.

Half-Time:  London French 15 - 3 Woking

Woking tried to take the game to their opponents at the start of the second half but much like the first half their dominance in the scrums was being negated by their inability to now win any line out ball. Up front Woking were more than holding their own and frustrating the opposing pack. At times this boiled over with late tackles and off the ball incidents which were going unnoticed by both sides.

As Woking tired, unable to enjoy the depth of bench they had available in previous weeks, London French took advantage to throw the ball around and score two more tries. With several players continuing to play through injury Woking were struggling to contain their younger and fitter opponents, who themselves had the luxury of a lengthy bench which enabled them to rotate players at will.

Undeterred and lead by Woods, Rose and Claydon Woking got into their opponent’s half and whilst causing problems they never really threatened the French try line, either conceding possession or field position through mistakes, indiscipline or as a result of good defence.

With ten minutes remaining Woking were reduced 14 men as Wilkes saw red for retaliation for something that happened as a scrum broke up. London French took advantage of the extra player scoring a final try as Woking failed to deal with a kick in behind.

At the end, reflecting on the match Woking skipper Jacob Woods said, ‘Today wasn’t a true reflection of our quality and I am disappointed. With key players missing or unavailable the boys who played today gave everything, but it wasn’t enough. We have a week off now to recover and get ready for our final 2 fixtures before the Christmas break. We have already exceed our points tally for last season so we have made some huge steps forward to be pleased with.’

Full-Time: London French 32 - 3 Woking

Man of the Match – Josh Claydon