Frustrated Farnham flummoxed by Old Reigatian and referee
Deservedly OR ran out winners. All of their scores were team efforts.
As the wind whipped in from the Urals and the wind chill brought the temperature plummeting to -7C, this rearranged fixture defied the elements and kicked off on a snow dusted pitch. This was rugby as raw as it gets. Highly tuned wingers were candidates for hypothermia. Only the forwards could generate warmth.
Old Reigatian are a classy well drilled team. They have been second in the league to Camberley all season and it was easy to see why. Their forwards are big and direct and their backs, even under the conditions of the day, are elusive and fast. A final score of 0-25 reflected their fire power. So no sour grapes from the Farnham Faithful, although several questioned the performance from the visiting referee.
There is a saying in sport that if you want an international referee, you must play in internationals. At the other end of the spectrum, this was a frustrating performance by the official. In support of their young team – many regular players had tickets for Twickenham - Pete Daly, captain for the day, and Michael Salmon, the former captain, pleaded for explanations. With none forthcoming, the penalty count continued to mount - 25 penalties against Farnham and - staggeringly - only two in Farnham's favour. While the game was not to be won, it was a shame to see a team putting their bodies on the line in harsh conditions to be thus disheartened.
From the first scrummage on the Farnham 22 the Reigatians front row went to work. The hugely experienced barrel of a man George Mullen was on a mission ably abetted by the rest of his front five. The Farnham pack had no answer. Bentham, Marshall and Yeomans were immediately under the cosh - it was to be a long afternoon. The scrum on the trundle for 15 metres inexorably closer to the Home try-line. Scrum half Forsyth on the break and a superb pop pass to winger Cook. Try and 0-5.
Four minutes had gone and for the next twenty-five minutes, interrupted by a nasty injury to Cook, Farnham battled against the freezing wind to get out of their own half. Time and time again they were driven back by the booming boot of Gale and the continuingly baffling blasts from the referee. Line out to Reigatian and a surge by their forwards and finished by that man Mullen. 0-10.
Continued skirmishing in the central part of the pitch and on 38 minutes Toby Salmon broke out backed by brother Michael and flankers Comley and De Gruchy. Farnham were into the visitor's 22. Line out and a driving maul for the line. Farnham penalised for infringing on the attack. “Why would we do that?” pleaded skipper Daly as the frustration almost bubbled over. Gale with another huge clearing kick and Old Reigatian were in the Farnham 22 again. Repeat the process: driving scrum, reset, driving scrum and this time No 8 Chesterton over for the points. 0-15 as half time approached and a chance for the frozen beleaguered backs to get into the warmth of the dressing rooms.
Farnham now with the freezing wind at their backs pushed for parity. The sages on the touchline deemed it was at least a 25 point wind. Repeatedly Farnham drove for the visitor's half and repeatedly they were driven back. Reigatians employed the pick and drive technique to perfection for much of the second half and with Ashby , Williamson and Collard all capable of line breaks Farnham were forced to defend in their own half. Despite the efforts of Simmons, Franklin and Azevado in the pack, Farnham just never looked like breaking down the defence and when they did, there seemed to be the ref there to thwart them and make this the first game almost in living memory in which Farnham have not scored. It was to be one of those afternoons.
Old Reigatian attacked again and a sustained period saw them win a scrum under the Farnham posts. Déjà vu: scrum drive, held, reset and repeat. Bentham yellow carded for collapsing the scrum as Farnham's woes mounted. At the subsequent scrum another surge and a try out wide. Again, no extras for Gale.
With the bonus point secure, Old Reigatian could have relaxed and run down the clock but they saved their best try to the end of the half as after over ten phases on the attack Farnham just ran out of cover and centre Williamson literally skated over in the corner. 0-25.
Deservedly Old Reigatian ran out winners. All of their scores were team efforts. Farnham with several of the squad regulars enjoying (or possibly not) a day out at Twickenham stuck at the task for the full 80 minutes with stand outs from Simmons, from Hooker Marshall whose throwing in at the many line-outs in tricky conditions kept Farnham in the game. In the backs Wetton at scrum half scrapped all game and the Salmon brothers were resolute in defence. Rich, Wigmore, Chalker and Ben Jones did as much as they could under truly awful conditions. All of the Old Reigatian scores were created by their overpowering pack so there was little the Farnham back division could do.
Just three more games to go in the season with the last home match next Saturday versus KCS Old Boys at 3pm. Come along and enjoy the pre-match lunch – gather at 12.45 to sit at 1.15.
Steve Simmons 3 battled throughout
Peter Daly led from front and kept his cool with ref - almost. 2
Toby Comley - 1 all-round top effort.