Opening purple patch too much for Twickenham
By Mark Weeks
A point a minute scored in the first quarter
Explosive from the first whistle, Farnham were overpowering and won the game in the first quarter scoring at a point a minute. Twickenham were simply overrun during this period. For the faithful on the touchline, it was the best period of attacking rugby for a number of seasons: fast, accurate and overwhelming. Pretty much in control over the entire game, Farnham eventually ran out winners 39-5.
Having received the kick off, Farnham launched a series of multi phased attacks with quick ball for wingers Reece Stennett and Eliot Rich. Both have pace to burn and that ability to wriggle and squirm through tackles that does so annoy defenders. Farnham were on the front foot from the first minute. The back row of Jordan Frost, Rob Mitchell and Toby Comley were the arch predators offering support and power at every opportunity. Skipper Oli Brown called the shots at scrum half and the result was an electric display for the sizeable crowd.
With Twickenham pulled left and right and the pace increasing, Michael Salmon put fellow centre James Corlett through a gap for the first try. Easy extras for Toby Salmon 7-0 on 90 seconds. All reminiscent of England in Dublin last week and at HQ on Sunday.
The Black and Whites swept forward from the restart and the referee, on the spot, adjudged some skulduggery but allowed the advantage. Second row Steve Simmons was held up short of the line and so back for the penalty and it was 10-0 through the accurate right foot of Toby Salmon.
The appetite for flowing, accurate rugby was epitomised by the number of carries made by the front row union of Marco Azevado, Matt Kouris and the evergreen Jules Joris. They demanded the ball and smashed out the hard yards. Their endeavour was rewarded in the twelfth minute when No 8 Rob Mitchell picked off a overthrown Twickenham line-out and drove for the line. He was held but the momentum was sustained by Joris and Kouris who delivered quick ball to Brown and on to Toby Salmon. Elusive and strong Salmon barged over. Converting his own try, the score was 17-0.
The coaches Alex Chisholm and Max Crompton urged their charges on to greater deeds. They were soon rewarded as the second-row engine room fired up out wide with Ben Adams and Simmons driving through the shell-shocked visitors’ defence. Up through the gears to full back Ben Jones who delivered a superb offload to No 8 Rob Mitchell. He was unstoppable and went over under the posts providing Toby Salmon with a formality of a conversion. 24-0 after just 21 minutes. Now for the bonus point try.
Sport with all its foibles is often difficult to fathom. Farnham continued to attack for the remainder of the half but, to the frustration of the old heads in the crowd, seemed to carry the ball that yard too far or delay the pass a split second too long. Nevertheless, Twickenham were permanently under pressure and on the rare moments they ventured into the Farnham half, the home wrap-around defence proved too efficient for them.
The high spot of the second quarter was the round of applause for 'veteran' prop Jules Joris who completed his shift handing over to Oli Thompson.
As anyone who has played sport will tell you, it would be a big ask to rekindle the efforts of the first period. Sometimes everything you try comes off but sometimes the opposite happens. In the early stages of the second half Farnham got on the wrong side of the referee. The penalty count rose, and frustration mounted. The game became niggly and untidy. Twickenham started to look threatening.
Respite at last! A Farnham attack was thwarted illegally and an easy three points for Toby Salmon. 27-0 but still in search of the try bonus point, the frustrations continued to mount. Comley to the bin for a relatively innocuous high tackle. The visitors, who to their credit never gave up the fight, took their chance against the depleted home pack and drove over for a consolation try. 27-5.
That was Twickenham’s final contribution to the score board, as first Farnham hooker Matt Kouris burrowed over for the precious bonus point score. Then, as the clock ran down, man of the match Rob Mitchell battled his way to the posts for his second try. This “icing on the cake” presented an easy “cherry” for Toby Salmon to convert. 39-5 at full time.
The first twenty minutes or so were breath taking - pacey, powerful, accurate and innovative. Farnham were just too well organised for their top four rivals. The win gives Farnham a four-point cushion at second in the league. Next week they make the trip to the unbeaten runaway league leaders KCS Old Boys. Cheered on by the travelling Farnham faithful and sustaining the accuracy and intensity for the full 80 minutes, a much-prized scalp could hang from the Farnham totem pole.
Presidents Podium: Rob Mitchell 3, Marco Azevedo 2, Reece Stennett 1