Farnham battle to superb win at KCS Old Boys
Five Academy Under 19's in the starting XV and what a display they and the rest of the Farnham boys put together.
A misty damp day greeted the Farnham faithful to the KCS ground at Motspur Park on Saturday - KCS supremo Paddy Ralston hosted the lunch and the battle commenced.
The energy levels of youngsters Rees de Gruchy, James Kenna and Johnny Davidson set the the tempo for Farnham's impressive first quarter, ball through the hands with experienced campaigner Tosh Masson, more used to operating with Harlequins and Bath, pulling the strings for his centre counterpart Mike Salmon. Skipper Toby Comley led from the front moving in to the open side as a late switch with Buster Bond laid low by a rogue curry. A captain's role at the most brutal position on the pitch.
With wingers Dave Hurley and Chas Penn prowling and the predatory Gabe Hills making inroads from fullback KCS were on the back foot. At the breakdown the Farnham Academy boys were dominating and the referee became less and less impressed with the KCS back row - on six minutes penalty to Farnham for killing the ball and a stern warning. 0-3 to Farnham through the trusty boot of Mike Salmon.
Oli Brown and Chris Penn at half back were spurring on the Farnham momentum pushing back KCS with probing kicks to the corners. From one sumptuous kick Kenna held one metre short, his last pay before going off with a strained bicep. Again the referee was unimpressed and another penalty to Farnham. Salmon bisects the posts 0-6.
At this stage all of the territory had been Farnham's. Ball through the hands successfully and early season running tactics forgotten with the emphasis on playing in the opposition's half.
Masson with a beautifully weighted kick into the KCS five metre area and Farnham drive for the line. The Davidson/Harrison throw/catch combination working well but again a turnover and a massive relieving kick from KCS fullback Anderson. From the line-out the hosts secure possession and drive for the line. 7-6 with the extras.
As half time approaches Farnham opt for the deep kick and Harrison once again poaches the ball but is dragged down in the line-out and the KCS offender is sent to the bin. Ten minutes to cool off and half time 7-6.
Encouraging signs from this young Farnham team against a team with five wins lying third in the league. The Academy boys are showing no respect and it is beginning to have effect.
A deep kick by Chris Penn sits up nicely for the KCS fullback who shows his own skill set with a superb sequence of chip and chases to return 70 yards to exert pressure on Farnham. From the line out and follow maul the KCS skipper rumbles over as only props can for a score in the corner. The extras from wide out push the score to 14-6.
Back come Farnham and again the referee adjudges skulduggery at the line out - same offender. Two yellows = one red and KCS down to 14 men.
Again the ice cool Salmon takes advantage 14-9.
Still the pace of the game continues and a deep clearing kick from KCS puts the visitors under pressure. Ball won and the KCS slot the drop goal. 17-9.
Relentless and compelling in equal doses, coach George Robson would pull his hair out (if he had any). De Gruchy driving forward, Steve Simmons backed by Trodden grab the game by the scruff and the KCS depleted pack are once again on the back foot.
Not releasing at the breakdown and Salmon converts the penalty 17-12 with just ten minutes left on the clock.
The Farnham faithful are at the nail-biting stage. Another sumptuous Masson chip releases Hills into the home 22. Penalty! 17-15 with two minutes remaining.
This is rugby at its best. The score in the balance and back come Farnham direct from the kick off - a snipe from Brown and on by Trodden inching ever closer to the home 22. Ball secure and Harrison makes the extra yards. But KCS frustrate again and are penalised once more. The pressure is on Mike Salmon with the last kick of the match. Silence, nail-biting and, finally, the nerve is held.
17-18 to Farnham who enjoy a well deserved second win of the season. Despite the injuries and loss of players the spirit within the club remains high. The introduction of the Academy players has raised the tempo and this was a tremendous effort by all concerned. KCS will be disappointed but their discipline at the breakdown and the line out cost them dear. On such margins are game won and lost at this level.