A game of one half?
By Mark Weeks
Farnham overrun the Eagles in the first 40 then the foot came off the pedal.
Farnham entertained old rivals Effingham and Leatherhead - ‘The Eagles’ - on Saturday at Monkton Lane. Perfect conditions greeted both teams and the scene was set for a festival of running rugby.
After the pre-match lunch the Eagles’ Chairman, David Armstrong, former CEO of Wasps, spoke generously about what Farnham RUFC has achieved in recent years. He also demonstrated the unity and generosity of the rugby family by committing £250 to Cardiac Risk in the Young. CRY is the charity for which the club is raising funds at the Memorial Match for Rich Brember on Sunday 14th October. Rich, Farnham’s 2nd XV captain elect, passed away from a massive heart attack while out on his bike this summer.
With a shrill blast, the diminutive referee, who was to enjoy a very successful afternoon, got the game underway. The Eagles, after a 50-point loss last week, were determined to up the ante. Last week’s injuries meant a new look second row of Dan Williams and Steve Simmons. The front row of Jules Joris, Jonny Davidson and Lenny Jennings were unchanged and while Toby Comley, Andrew Bond and Reece de Gruchy made up the back row. The three quarters, electric last week, were also unchanged.
The early sparring was followed by a Farnham break out. Williams bulk on the charge and on to Simmons, aptly nicknamed ‘Animal’, the pair made inroads deep into Eagles territory. Scintillating through the backs instigated by skipper for the day Oli Brown and through Michael Salmon and James Corlett to Toby Salmon on the loop. His try and conversion. 7-0.
Farnham had started well. The Eagles clawed to stay at the races as Farnham’s pace put them under severe pressure. Doggedly the visitors inched up the pitch and the pressure won them a penalty for holding on. The shot was off target but the Eagle’s piled on more pressure from the 22 restart and caught Farnham offside. That penalty was successful. 7-3.
Farnham started to rumble. The backs were pacey, accurate and impressive taking the ball deep into the visitors 22. Reece Stennett, at pace on the wing, was felled by a Fijiian high tackle. Penalty and a yellow card for the Eagles’ Draunidalo. 10-3 through the boot of Toby Salmon.
The home side were now in gear. The backs were confident and the forwards impressive in their support play. Farnham swarmed forward through Simmons and Jonny Davidson. Penalty and Salmon T to the corner. The forwards grabbed the opportunity with a perfect catch - through Hooker Lenny Jennings and a soaring Toby Comley - and then the drive. Together with Bond in the driving seat, Joris went over to claim the spoils and the extras were easy for Toby Salmon.
This was Farnham at their best – expansive, accurate and well supported play at pace. One-way traffic produced hat–trick for Comleyin just 10 minutes.
The first a full pitch break out. Oli Brown passed to de Gruchy, onto Bond who released Simmons for yet another of his bull-like carries toward the line. The ubiquitous Toby Comley was on hand to dot the ball down in the left corner. On 25 minutes, Comley popped up on the opposite wing to complete another flowing move. Full back Ben Jones into the line at pace and on to the equally quick Elliot Rich whose neat off-load put Comley in for the try.
The rout continued as Comley benefited from another catch and drive. 32-3 and the bonus point were in the bag on 30 minutes. The Eagles seemed grounded.
However, Effingham were stung into action and battered their way into the home 22. Sloppy defence allowed flanker Tom Hughes to slide over wide out. Some consolation at last for the men in green and yellow to have it 32-8 at half time.
The second half began at the same furious, rip-roaring pace. Michael Salmon and Comley crashing the hard yards through the middle with the back three continuing the moves. Moses Kuralala, on for the injured Buster Bond, smashed over by the posts. Farnham on 39 points with the T Salmon conversion. It looked like it was to be a long forty minutes for the Eagles.
But with the contest virtually over, Farnham fell away remarkably. The dazzling period over and the Eagles looked more likely. They were now the hunters and they needed to be.
Swarming attacks into the Farnham half were swatted away as the Eagles battled for pride. Pressure and a mix up in defence saw an intercept opportunity gobbled up by Centre Ben Harrison who went in under the posts. Easy conversion. 39-15.
With the clock running down after a sleepy half an hour from Farnham, the Eagles mounted a final series of attacks. The first repelled at cost as Kuralala was sent to the bin for a neck roll tackle. The second wave and Flanker Tom Hughes forced his way over in the corner for a well-deserved try. Credit to the Eagles for a spirited fight back in the second half. Their heads never dropped which could well have been the case after the first half drubbing.
As for Farnham, a superb first half display settled the match. A collective foot off the pedal after the bonus points were secured took some of the gloss of the win. Nevertheless, two five pointers to start this season is a good return despite the frustrating injuries.
The sick report is extended to Buster Bond HIA, Jonny Davidson broken nose, Toby Salmon shoulder recurrence.
The podium easy with a hat trick from Toby Comley and stand out beef from Steve Simmons and Dan Wiliams 3-2-1.