Farnham lose out in Ding Dong battle.
By Mark Weeks
Both sides ran themselves into the ground in a pacey, error-strewn game.
On a beautiful autumn afternoon at Twickenham RFC with the sun shining and just the slightest of breezes, Farnham and Twickenham virtually ran themselves into the ground in a pacey, error-strewn game.
The final score of 48-40 reflected the frailties of the defences. The scores could have been closer when in the last-minute Farnham’s hooker Jonny Davidson charged down a clearance kick, hacked on and looked certain to score until the ball bounced cruelly onto the post instead of rolling over the line. That incident summed up Farnham’s day – a losing bonus point gone.
This was a topsy-turvy game from the off, the lead and the try scoring changed with each successive play. During the early positional wrestling, the bigger Twickenham pack of forwards dominated the scrums and driving mauls. It was going to be a long afternoon for the lighter Farnham eight. Three successive scrums lost followed by a penalty to the corner. The home advantage gained as the maul plunged over the line 5-0.
To the Farnham travelling supporters the consensus was that the backs would have the edge in attack out wide. So it proved as Ben Jones cut back at speed to dot down under the posts. Two points for Toby Salmon off the tee. 5-7.
Despite being under constant pressure in the forward encounters, four line outs lost in a row and the scrum shunting backwards, the Farnham backs, whilst living of scraps, forged a chance taken by the impudence of Toby Salmon who chipped over the home defence and touched down out wide. Extras for Salmon T with the conversion 5-14.
With flanker Moses Kualala suffering a blood injury Buster Bond came on to bolster the flagging pack but to no avail as the power from the boys in red and black produced an unstoppable pushover try.
12-14 and half time after a frenetic 40 minutes.
If it’s not your day, things go wrong and so they did here with the first clearance kick of the second half by Oli Brown charged down to allow the rampant home back row to steam over for a try 17-14.
From the subsequent kick-off, back came the home forwards inter passing to free up their ever-present No 8 who scored under the posts for easy extras and 24-14.
Back came Farnham, roared on by the faithful, at a line out on the home five metre line. Jonny Davidson throw went in to Ben Adams with Bond and Ben Brown at the back at the back of he maul. Eight man drive and the flanker, Ben Brown, scored. Easy for Toby Salmon 24-21.
The pace and the interplay continued at a relentless pace but the Farnham pack continued to be pushed around all over the pitch. Gaps appeared allowing Twickenham through the centre – try and an easy conversion. 31-21.
Farnham made deep inroads from the pace of Joe Wigmore and earned penalty to the corner. This time it was Bond who controlled the driving maul to plunge over. 31-26. Back come the home forwards to stretch the Farnham defence and run it ragged. Easy pickings for the home pack as the normally resilient Farnham blitz defence was strangely subdued. 38-26 with ten minutes to play.
The ebb and flow then went Farnham’s way as Oli Brown sniped over for a try after James Corlett and Mike Salmon thrust through the middle. Two from Toby Salmon 38-33.
Anything could happen!
A long clearance from the Twickenham full back put Farnham under pressure in their own five metre area. Scrum to the home boys and with their controlled drive disintegrated the Farnham pack. Penalty try and the game breaker. 45-33.
Farnham would not lie down and forced another five-metre line out. Toby Salmon over for the try with easy extras for him 48-40.
The last-minute Davidson charge down denied Farnham a losing bonus point. Did they deserve more? On this performance probably not. No excuses. A number of the core players were not at their best – as happens in sport while the young speedsters Joe Wigmore, Alex Chalker (on for Ben Jones) and Reece Stennett threatened in attack but were exposed in defence at crucial times.
Up front it was a struggle from the first scrum, Gareth Yeomans, Davidson and Conner Haynes in the front row under immediate pressure. The back five of Ben Adams, Steve Simmons, Toby Comley, Kuralala, Bond and Brown were outgunned by the bigger and more experieinced home pack.
On the plus side, the boys that stepped up are gaining experience and despite being an off-colour back line being startved of ball, Farnham put 40 points on the board. They will need all of it for the next two games against league leaders KCS next Saturday and Reigatians on Nov 3rd.
Toby Salmon – 3
Steve Simmons – 2
Ben Brown - 1 from my iPhone