Farnham attack from everywhere to overwhelm Old Reigatian
By Mark Weeks
All eighteen players did their job well and when everyone does that, Farnham can attack from anywhere.
Last autumn Farnham pipped Old Reigatian (OR) 20-24 at their impressive home. Last Saturday, the Faithful at Monkton Lane had yet another rejigged team to support and so anticipated another close encounter with perhaps OR nicking the spoils. However, Farnham bounced back from their 43 – 5 loss to KCS Old Boys with a convincing 57 – 5 victory over their like-minded rivals from Reigate.
On 20 minutes ORs scored their one try with an impressive training ground move through the backs. This made the score an interesting 12-5. But from that moment, they did not have a sniff while everything seemed to work for Farnham. It was a complete performance from the team. With a dry ball in hand and on a surface perfect for running rugby, everyone did their job tirelessly and accurately.
Up front, the set piece operated effectively. Props Jules Joris, Marco Azevedo and finisher Connor Haynes wore down their opposition front row in the scrum. Jonny Davidson at hooker was unerring with his line out throws and when Farnham had their chance to score a catch-and-drive try from a five-metre line out, he was on the money to set up prop Jules Joris to do the honours.
In open play, the front row carried relentlessly - Azevedo in particular. His hard work was rewarded. On the shoulder of Davidson who had burst through the OR defence, he gratefully took the offload and with two OR defenders on his shoulders, crashed over for his try.
Man-of-the-match Ben Adams was tidy at the lineout, tackled everything and lead the charge with ball in hand. Adams fits the mould of the new style of second row forward who has the skills and mobility of a flanker. He combined with the equally mobile Farnham No 8 Jordan Frost to follow up a break from winger Tom Cerullo and free up the other winger Reece Stennet for his try. Farnham’s attacking options are plentiful when a second row, back row and both wingers – one hunting for work off his own wing - combine at pace!
Meanwhile, Adam’s fellow lock forward Steve Simmons, is in the more traditional mould of the second-row heavyweight. He displayed not inconsiderable skill and some panache with many a carry and more than his share of momentum stopping tackles.
Toby Comely had his usual predatory game at openside flanker capped by intercepting a pass during OR’s final frantic attack to gallop half the pitch for his try. A key weapon in the OR attacking armoury was their No 5 who hit the gain line from deep and at pace. Ben Brown, Farnham’s No 6, effectively nullified that threat all game.
Brother, skipper and scrum half, Ollie Brown was at his accurate best with his passes from the base and his effective box kicks. The opportunity to kick in the first half was limited by the stiff breeze into which Farnham played. However, what the team lacked in terms of a meteorological advantage, they made up for with good hands and strong running lines.
Farnham’s opening try was as good an example as any. After multiple phases a gap appeared for Toby Salmon at 10. Held up, he offloaded to brother Michael at 12 to complete the score.
As the first half came to a close, Salmon T showed more of his mazy footwork. An innovative move off a short Farnham lineout in the OR 22 put the defence on the back foot. Brown fizzed the ball to Salmon who dummied, stepped, stepped again and left the OR defenders clutching at air as he dotted down. He converted that try as he did 6 of the 9 scored by Farnham, including three long range strikes.
While Toby’s flair caught the eye, it was his brother Michael’s regular line breaks that posed the consistent threat and it was his command of the defence in midfield that restricted the OR score.
For Farnham’s second try of the afternoon, Salmon M put Alex Chalker at 13 into space. His break put ORs on the back foot and fast hands from the ruck took the ball from the right to the left wing where Jordon Frost lurked to power over. It was also a Mike Salmon line break that set up Farnham’s sixth score. Tidying up the ball from a scrappy line out, he beat his marker and passed to full back Ben Jones at pace who in turn released winger Tom Cerullo for his try.
The tries alone do not tell the full story of this match. ORs have much to be proud of as a club and those in the green and blue were determined to get something from the game. During a twenty-minute period early in the second half, they pounded the Farnham line forcing penalty after penalty none of which they spurned for a shot at goal. They mixed their attack up between slick hands to get the ball wide, direct runs at the midfield, flooding the blind side and grubber kicks. Nevertheless, Farnham’s niggardly and well drilled defence, smarting no doubt from its last leaky display, held firm.
In the final quarter, Farnham brought on the finishers; Eliot Rich into the centre and Liam Welsh at No 8. The former’s pace and interplay with his fellow speedsters made the space for the latter to charge the length of an undefended 22 to score his try. That score highlighted two outtakes from this game (1) all eighteen players did their job well and (2) when everyone does that, Farnham can attack from anywhere.
President’s Podium: Ben Adams 1, Mike Salmon 2, Marco Azevedo 1.
The match itself was a fine tribute to a day of mixed emotions at the club. The afternoon began with the Chairman and Treasurer giving their annual “state of the nation” address to a hundred members of the FRUFC Foundation. The Foundation raised the seed capital that enabled the club to build its fantastic facilities in 2012. Having heard that all was in the rudest of health, they stayed on for the pre-match lunch at which the club was formally presented with its annual RFU Club Accreditation. Then we heard the sombre news that Ralph Mellon, a founder player, icon of the club in its early days and friend to many, had lost his battle with cancer. A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off. A large crowd reflected on the fact that, amongst other things, rugby is but a game, albeit a great one.