Old Colfeian heavies just too much for Farnham
By Mark Weeks
Old Colfeians were just too lumpy and experienced - their wet weather tactics spot on.
Again, it was the opportunity for a new crop of players to run out for Farnham’s 1st XV cup game on Saturday where they faced Old Colfeian’s from south east London. The injury and absentee list continues to grow, exacerbated by the small matter of the day's other important game England v New Zealand just up the road.
Former Academy player Rhys Bassett stepped in at scrum half with Liam Welch, just back from University slotting in at No.8. Both of the debutantes put in great performances in the monsoon like conditions.
Old Colfeians currently lie fourth in the SE Division of London 2 and their hefty pack will take some industrial contractors to move them. This was a lesson in old school driving mauls for the Farnham boys. Farnham were in the ascendancy around the field, their backs happy to attack from all over the pitch. While there were no meaningful attacks by the Colfeians backs, their heavies made up for it. Props Ariyo and O'Malley backed by the massive presence of Humphreys and Fletcher bordered on bullying in the playground.
The lighter Farnham pack, spearheaded by Steve Simmons, Moses Kurulala, Gareth Yeomans and Marco Azevedo, fought fire with fire into the driving rain. With Ben Brown and Comley battling around the fringes and Pritchard and Welch on the charge, the Farnham boys held firm.
The set scrums were the acid test for Farnham - as in most of the games this season. This game was no exception, the huge difference in weight and technique ensured Farnham were under the hammer for the entire game. The signs were ominous from the first scrum and the referee lost patience in the 13th minute. Penalty to the visitors 0-3.
Spurred into action, Farnham began a series of attacks to pull the heavier pack around the pitch. Gaps began to appear and Liam Welch hurtled through one on the halfway line to gallop all the way to the posts - a brilliant opportunist effort. Not bad in his first game for two years, and he will get better. 7-3 with an easy conversion for Mike Salmon.
Not to be outdone the boys from Kent hit back resorting to their driving, up-the-jumper, mauling tactics. When momentum has been achieved it is impossible to stop. On they trundled until Westhead flopped over for the inevitable try. 7-8 with the conversion askew.
Farnham came back through the threequarters with Andrew Freshwater and Michael Salmon pulling the strings. Their tails were up as they launched another foray through Reece Stennet, Alex Chalker and Joe Wigmore deep into the Colfeians half. Too eager, the defence was caught offside and a penalty to Farnham. The lead restored 10-8.
Farnham's best period continued with another well supported attack and desperate measures from Colfeians as a high tackle gave Farnham the opportunity to increase the lead 13-8 through the trusty boot of Michael Salmon.
However Colfeians went back to Plan A: penalty to the corner, line out, catch and drive and Westhead sliding in for his second. 13-13 at the break.
As the wind died and the rain stopped Farnham's potential weather advantage was taken away. The second half mirrored the first. Farnham attacked from deep and out wide. However inexperience or the wrong decision often pushed them down defensive channels to be enveloped by the much bigger Colfeians forwards.
Back came the visitors, another series of dominant scrums and a penalty awarded. Corner, catch and drive - try to O'Malley. With the extras 13-20 Colfeians took a lead they would never relinquish.
Farnham had a couple of chances but inaccuracy at the line out - a problem all afternoon – meant they were pushed back. Frustration mounted. On the next Farnham assault, another high tackle set up easy penalty points for skipper Mike Salmon. 16-20.
Untidy play in midfield and Farnham conceded a silly penalty. 16-23. The game was slipping away as the light faded, the finish line in sight as Colfeians launched their final catch and drive. Try and the conversion to make 16-30 the final score.
A brave, sustained performance by the boys - particularly the debutants Welch and Bassett. The bench of Oli Thompson, Andrew Coutts and Jamie Innes played their part in a game of two halves - one monsoonal and the other still and humid. Old Colfeians were just too lumpy and experienced - their wet weather tactics spot on for the conditions and we wish them all the best in the next round.
Steve Simmons 3 points – body on the line throughout, Andrew Freshwater – tackles himself into the ground 2, Michael Salmon, skipper for the day, a rock in defence.