All-round team performance secures bonus point win

Merton RFC 22 vs Woking RFC 24

Woking travelled up the A3 to visit familiar opposition in Merton RFC.  Despite some of the lop-sided results when the two sides have met in the last couple of years, this match from the offset looked like it would be one of the hard-fought battles separated by a couple of points that this fixture has often thrown up and it did not disappoint.

Photo taken by Justin Cliffe
Photo taken by Justin Cliffe

Woking kicked off with the slope and from the start put pressure on their hosts.  Merton in a bid to slow the game down ended up giving Woking several penalties which allowed the visitors to build from set piece.  However, Woking failed to capitalise, and it was Merton who struck first with Woking conceding a couple of sloppy penalties which allowed the home side to get up field and within range for a shot at goal to open the scoring 3-0.

Not allowing their heads to drop, Woking went back downfield and continued to pressure the Merton defence with strong running from the back row of Phil Price, Josh Claydon and Jacob Woods as well as the threat in the backline from Carl Jacobz and Keilhan Watson.  This soon paid dividends with a grubber through a gap from Jacobz was hacked on by Price and then missed by the Merton fullback which allowed Price to score.  The conversion was missed making it 5-3 to Woking.

Woking continued their pressure and a penalty from a scrum at close range allowed Jacob Woods to take a tap and crash over making the score 10-3.  Merton hit back immediately with some strong work through their forwards to bring the score back to 10 each. 

It was almost Merton who went into half time leading when a dangerous break by their wing looked to be a certain try, however heroic cover defence from Oscar Dower, Jawad Sobhani and Finn Rowe got Woking into half time with honours even.

Half-Time: Merton 10 - 10 Woking

Playing up hill second half, Woking knew it would be a challenge.  However, both forwards and backs stepped up to the mark.  Not much could divide the sides in the first 15 minutes until a stroke of individual brilliance from fullback Watson saw him rip the Merton defence apart and score under the posts, the conversion was added to take the score to 17-10.  Merton quickly hit back after some soft defence due to tired legs allowed Merton to dot down in the corner taking the score to 17-15. 

This was a wakeup call for Woking who went up field and camped on the Merton line.  A penalty for an infringement at a scrum was taken quickly by scrum half Rhys Parker who fed Captain Woods to take advantage of the static Merton defence to grab his second score of the afternoon. Keihlan Watson took the score with the conversion to 24-15.

The last ten minutes were a desperate effort from both sides to grab the win. For a large part it looked like Merton were going to do it after grabbing a try to bring the score back to 24-22.  The hosts continued to be camped on the Woking line and when they conceded a penalty in front of the posts the game seemed up. 

A shot at goal would have taken Merton into the lead, however to Woking’s surprise their enthusiastic second row took a quick tap penalty.  Not only was he held up over the line, but he also failed to tap the ball which resulted in a Woking free kick and despair for the Merton players and supporters alike. 

A Woking clearance found an isolated Merton winger who was surrounded by Keiron Williamson, Josh Claydon and Rhys Parker and had no choice but to hold on and concede a penalty.  Woking cleared even further up field and after the lineout won another penalty for Merton infringements at the ruck. After being camped in their own 22 for much of the last ten minutes, Woking ended the game in the opposition 22 with Rhys Parker putting the ball dead for full time and the win.

Jacob Woods commented after the game: “Just what we needed as a side.  Everyone stood up as individuals today and played as a team for the win. If we can maintain a consistent side selection and build on the hard work at training, I have no doubt more wins will come”.

Full-time: Merton 22 - 24 Woking

Man of the Match – Kieran Williamson for an all-round dominant display in defence and crucial turnovers at the ruck.