Farnham overwhelmed by classy KCS
By Mark Weeks
No excuses, injuries happen, no complaints, well done boys you all stuck in there.
When the unbeaten league leaders come to town you know you are going to have to be at the top of your game. This was indeed the case at Farnham on Saturday.
KCS arrived for the fixture with a played six, won six record. Farnham having lost to Twickenham by 48-40 the previous week were hoping to upset the applecart with a win. And for the first 26 minutes they managed to retain parity. The game was played at a frenetic pace both sides happy with ball in hand, some of the back play electric.
The visitors had the advantage of the strong, cold, Northerly wind at their backs but elected to run virtually all of their possession. In their first venture into the Farnham 22 – disaster. Farnham already suffering their worst injury list for years, some ten or twelve players absent or long term injured, endured another set back as Tobys Comley and Salmon clashed at the breakdown. Salmon the young playmaker off after just six minutes.
With Scullion on at centre, Michael Salmon moved in to fly half. During the disruption KCS went for the jugular and after a sustained orchestrated attack Flanker Brodie Wilson cantered over under the posts. Easy pickings for kicker du Toit and 0-7.
For close on twenty minutes Farnham enjoyed their best period, sweeping attacks out wide through the back three speedsters – Rich, Wigmore and Chalker. The back row of Davidson, Mitchell and Comley in support. The league leaders were pushed back. Encouraging signs for the sizeable home crowd. Salmon and Corlett through the centre. Penalty Farnham. Salmon to the corner and accuracy at the subsequent line out from new hooker Matt Kouris to the ever reliable Ben Adams. The maul rumbled prompted by the irrespressible Oli Brown, who enjoyed a great tussle all game with Slater his counterpart.
Held and the ball transferred to Salmon on the charge who though tackled three yards short managed a superb off load pass to James Corlett. Try and an easy conversion for Michael Salmon 7-7 and parity restored on fifteen minutes.
Farnham kept up the pressure for a further ten minutes, annoying mistakes, knock-ons and turnovers disrupting their flow. KCS were starting to click into gear and, ominously, starting to kick for field position. Fly half Cook pulling the strings for successive attacks culminating in a penalty to the corner on the Clubhouse side. Line out catch and drive, unstoppable. Second row Parker with the try. 7-12.
Inside three minutes a repeat in the opposite corner again a well constructed, dynamic controlled driving maul. Prop Williams claiming the spoils and a superb touch line conversion in the swirling wind from du Toit. 7-19. The afternoon was starting to look decidedly long for Farnham but at least they could take advantage of the wind in the second half couldn’t they?
The visitors were now in top gear, playing almost Sevens type rugby attacking from deep. The Farnham defence was under pressure right across the field, the boys battled but with no respite cracks appeared. Stoppani over in the corner. 7-24.
With half time approaching KCS poured forward again, the Farnham tackle count increasing with every break. Penalty and a kick to the corner and another catch and drive try through second row Parker with the conversion from du Toit. 7-31 at the interval.
The second half was a similar tale exacerbated by the increasing dominance of the KCS scrum and their impressive power in the mauls. Farnham, as in the last three games, started to go backwards at an alarming rate. No 8 Rob Mitchell forced to dig deeper into a retreating pack to recover the ball. He managed under difficult conditions or it could have been a rout.
With just five minutes gone he managed to fish the ball out of a disintegrating five metre scrum to make hard yards. Quickly recycled ball and Oli Brown looped a delightful pass out to winger Joe Wigmore. Try and with a huge touchline conversion from Michael Salmon some cheer for the, by now, extremely cold home support. 14-31.
Still Farnham attacked but were pushed back time after time, the scrum dominance taking its toll on the home forwards. They had virtually run themselves into the ground.
Tiredness and pressure told – Penalty KCS and Cook to the corner. Inevitable – another catch and drive try this time through Staunton. 14-36.
The Farnham pack were under the cosh for the entire 80 minutes – B-T, Kouris and Joris backed by Matt Pritchard and Ben Adams had scrapped for every inch in the scrum but were overpowered.
The final try another catch and drive distorted the score line to 14-41.
KCS are a fine side and with a first team squad of 30 they will take some beating. Strong up front with very pacy backs they were just too strong for Farnham. The pluses were the baptism at this level for quite a number of the Farnham squad – they will gain vital experience from it. As the injured and the absent players return the squad will have increased in experience and skill.
Michael Salmon - 3 points - great skills particularly after the Favourite One went off injured after 5 minutes.
Rob, Bob, Bobby Mitchell - 2 points - tremendous game on the back foot.
Jonny D - 1 - almost to a standstill.