Farnham prevail on a Friday night first
L'Escargots -v- Sutton & Epsom
A cold, wet pitch at Wilkinson Way saw a first on Friday evening. Farnham L’Escargots (Over 35s – Vets) hosted Sutton & Epsom Vets in a re-arranged league encounter. This was the first time the rugby club had hosted a Friday night competitive league fixture at any level and it proved to be a resounding success. Sutton & Epsom had beaten Farnham in their home encounter quite comfortably earlier in the season and Farnham knew they were going to need their A game to compete, and compete they did! Despite the recent weather and deluge on Friday morning, the ground staff at Wilkinson Way did an excellent job of ensuring the game could go ahead. Standing water across the pitch made conditions tricky but both teams were keen to keep the ball in hand and throw it about. Having made a welcome return to Vets rugby from 1st XV duty it was Jemi Akin-Olugbade who went over first in the corner and shortly afterwards the middle of the 3 Brookers did the same for a short range score. Sutton & Epsom have been here before and were in no mood to roll over. They came straight back at Farnham beating a path towards the try line. Eventually a well worked forward drive put them over the white wash and their kicker, who seems to be able to slot it from anywhere, brought them right back into the game at 10-7. This immediately sparked the Snails into action and by combining tactical kicking with forward pick and drives, Jemi Akin-Olugbade pushed the 9 out of the way and sniped over for his brace under the sticks. 17-7, the half time score.
Both sides were blessed with a full bench to bring on and a replacement spree more akin to American Football followed. Farnham doubled the size (and age) of the front row which provided a steady set piece platform for the backs to attack. Farnham were against the wind and with no option for kicking the backs put a few phases of play together which paid dividends and, yet again Jemi the 2nd half captain, went over for his hat trick. Still – Sutton & Epsom wouldn’t lie down. Their mercurial Number 8 had been cleverly moved to full back and eventually got his hands on the ball and danced over, under the sticks. Soon after, with another lapse in concentration Sutton & Epsom went over again and the conversion was easy pickings for their 10. They were right back in it at 22-21 and the momentum was swinging in their favour. Substitutions continued and the youngest of the Brooker family took to the field. A gather from some sloppy handling in midfield allowed him to canter in from the half way. This broke the deadlock. The Brookers weren’t finished! Brooker senior took to the field which seemed to spark life back in to his son Tom who had been industrious but quiet for the middle section of the match. Farnham’s spirits were lifted by the 8 point cushion and 2 charge downs led to another 2 tries for the middle Brooker which took his tally to 3.
Final score 41-21 which probably didn’t reflect the match but shared league points across the 2 league encounters was definitely a fair outcome for both clubs. Beer and curry followed at the club – a successful evening on and off the pitch. Special mention goes to Team Manager Terry Whitear for a logistically challenging 70 minutes getting 25+ players a game of rugby for Farnham. This takes Farnham Vets to 2nd in the Surrey league their highest ever position! With 3 fixtures remaining the hope is they will remain there and book a home tie in the playoffs.