Arctic Conditions and Effingham fail to stop Farnham
By Mark Weeks
Despite brutally cold, wet and windy conditions, this was the Farnham Rugby 1st XV at their best.
A real team performance from the first minute to the last and from 1 to 18 of the players. Effingham have always been a bogey club for Farnham - the corresponding fixture last year in similar conditions saw Farnham lose 13-12. This year was a different story.
Effingham and Leatherhead - the Eagles - soared for the first five minutes with the wind at their backs. Sustained multi-phased attacks won them two penalties both easily despatched by veteran fly half Porter. 6-0.
However, the visitors were in the driving seat. James Corlett and Michael Salmon were making huge inroads through the middle and the handling moves stretched the Eagles defence. After initial posturing, the two sides’ back rows began to get more involved, but the Farnham trio of Liam Welch, Rob Mitchell and Toby Comley provided a better blend and began to enjoy success at the breakdown and tackle areas.
Farnham win a penalty in front of the posts and Mr Reliable, Toby Salmon, takes the points 6-3. Wave after wave of Farnham attacks tested the Eagles as the pace increased. As the bitter wind increased, a slick fast move provided advantages in territory and, importantly, warmth for the backs. A break by Ben Jones, back to his best after injury niggles, opened up the Eagle’s defence. From an ensuing Farnham line out, a succession of attacking mauls concluded with flanker Liam Welch muscling his way over under the posts. Easy for Salmon T. 6-10.
Farnham began to flow and Effingham had no answer. Reece Stennet got half through on left wing but backed-up by Comley and Welch, on through Mitchell to scrum half Oli Brown whose clever delayed pass freed up Michael Salmon to put his centre partner James Corlett over for a superb team try. Again easy for brother Toby, 6-17.
The rain and wind increased but it did not distract the Farnham boys. Ben Adams and Matt Pritchard in the row were operating as first receivers and alternated with props Andy Coutts and Marco Azevedo. Effingham were on the back foot and a Salmon break out completely exposed their defence. Toby Salmon with a pop pass to elder brother Michael who outstripped and out-drove the defenders to slide in under the posts. The conversion was easy for the provider. 6-24 half time and some respite in the clubhouse for players and spectators alike.
The young Bristol Society referee, who enjoyed a fine game, commenced the second period with Farnham enjoying the fearsome elements at their backs enabling them to tease the opposition with raking, territory grabbing kicks. The pressure told and again from a series of pick and drives, Welch was driven over the line. 6-29.
To their credit the Eagles never gave up but it was not to be their day. Gareth Yeomans - on for Coutts - is a colossus on the hoof and he made yards before eventually being hauled down. Quick ball for Oli Brown and Farnham again broke out with a slick, length-of-the-pitch attack. Given the conditions this was impressive handling. Fast down the right through Jones and Corlett, again quick ball and on across the field through Corlett to Toby Salmon who when checked put Reece Stennett over in the corner. Another superb team try. 6-34.
Still Effingham could not break out and with the light starting to fade and the referee being encouraged to call an early halt to proceedings, Liam Welch completed a well-deserved hat trick by ripping the ball out of a maul and plunging over for the clincher. Final extras for Toby Salmon and a superb wet weather win. 6-41.