Woking return to winning ways

Woking RFC 41 vs

Wandsworthians RFC 34

After several weeks without a competitive fixture due to a combination of fixture scheduling, player availability and weather conditions, Woking returned to Surrey Counties 5 league action hosting Wandsworthians RFC. With their usual home ground at Byfleet Rec unavailable for the foreseeable future the game was held at neighbours Chobham RFC.

Photo taken by Keith Greig
Photo taken by Keith Greig

Despite losing skipper Jacob Woods on the morning of the match due to illness, vice-captain Marc McGiven had a full squad at his disposal as the club welcomed back several familiar faces as well as some new ones. Woking were also looking to avenge the 27-0 defeat they experienced earlier in the season and pick up their first league win since October 1st 2022.

Woking made a strong start to the game with a solid platform set by the forwards. This allowed outside half Elvis Fitzgerald to sail through a gap in the defence, only to be brought down short with a high tackle resulting in a penalty try being awarded and the Wandsworthians player being shown a yellow card.

A penalty try wasn't needed a few minutes later when second row Pip Butcher tore through the opposition defence beating several tackle attempts. The ball was spun out to centre Shaun Gilbert who scored in the corner.

Visibly rattled with the intensity of Woking's play Wandsworthians were also becoming increasingly frustrated with a number of refereeing decision going against them. This resulted in another yellow card with the visitors scrum half being sent to the bin for dissent. Woking used their numerical advantage and continued to build up the points with a brilliant solo effort from flanker Josh Claydon, and debutant winger, Mike Dower following some great hands by the Woking back line.

With the half ending Woking's numerical and points advantage was reduced. Firstly, centre Matt Armstrong was lucky not to be shown a red card for a high tackle on his opposite number, only receiving a yellow. From the resulting penalty and further infractions by the hosts which resulted in a series of tap penalties, Wandsworthians were able to get a try back. They continued to apply pressure before some welcome half time respite.

Half time: Woking 29 - 7 Wandsworthians

Turning around with a comfortable scoreline in their favor, Woking were guilty of complacency in both the loose and tight exchanges of play. Despite this they started the second half started brightly with some strong phase play from the forwards allowing Pip Butcher lurking in midfield to utilise an overlap and touch down under the posts. Rhys Parker added the extras.

This was to be the end though as Wandsworthians took the game to Woking, regularly cutting holes in the defence and scoring some fine tries. Fine defensive efforts from full back Marc McGiven and flanker Phil Price prevented further tries being conceded. Woking went back upfield and Phil Price got a try from a series of forward pressure, but Wandsworthians were to have the last word by returning to the Woking half and scoring a converted try with the final play of the match.

Reflecting on the match Chairman and Head Coach Andy Jones said after the game "We went to sleep in the second half and did our best to throw a much-needed win away. A lack of match fitness and the larger dimensions of the Chobham pitch were also a factor. The final 5 minutes were a lot more nerve shredding than they should have been. However, I think if we can play like we did in the first 30 for 80 minutes in our remaining games, we have a lot to look forward to. A big thanks to Chobham RFC for hosting us, hopefully it won't be too much longer before we can return to Byfleet Rec".

Final score: Woking RFC 41 - 34 Wandsworthians RFC

Man of the Match: TJ Yuvidu

Next match: Raynes Park (H), Kick off 2.30pm, Chobham RFC