Winchester class just shows
Probably Farnham's biggest fixture for some ten years.
Winchester third in the league brought their supporters to Monkton Lane for the first fixture between the clubs since 2005 and what a combative battle it proved to be.
The emphasis is changing - the Farnham Coaches are determined to introduce a pragmatic hard-nosed territorial edge to the tactics and Farnham took their lofty opponents so close in this brutal encounter. The middle period of the second half had Winchester on the ropes but Farnham just could not throw the killer punch - the knock out blow that would have clinched a famous win.
A mirky damp day greeted both teams and intentions were obvious from the start both teams kicking for territory and with just two minutes gone Winchester win a line-out 15 metres out and a well-executed catch and drive released their man of the match second row giant xxxxxxxx to crash over wide out. 0-5 Winchester after a sloppy conversion attempt.
Coach George Robson backed by experienced campaigner Tosh Masson are beginning to change the philosophy of this young Farnham side. Position gained and attack the opposition within their own 22 metre area. Hills, Masson and Salmon in the centres were using the blitz defence to great effect. The rush is risky but the opposition, used to scoring thirty or forty points a game, were put under constant pressure. Backed by the Farnham back row of Bond, Crabb and Comley the pressure began to reap rewards. Hills with a turnover following up a Bond drive offered the chance for Tosh Masson to exploit the gap. The rolling chip sits up for Hills who is held up agonisingly close after a seventy yard jinking run. Penalty to Farnham and the siege gun boot of Mike Salmon secures the reward. 3-5.
After 30 minutes honours are fairly even a testament to bottom placed Farnham versus their third placed opponents - the visitors are rattled. Flying Winchester winger hauled down five metres short by Hills, playing his best game of the season, winger Chas Penn manages to clear the lines. From the line-out back come Winchester slick hands and their ubiquitous second row again crashes towards the line - held but almost telescopically stretches to dot down the try. 3-10. A blow to Farnham as half time approaches.
Time to rethink or more of the same. The latter but with less infuriating mistakes would surely secure a much needed win. Crabb and de Gruchy on for Bond and Trodden and a tremendous start to the second half. Winchester are against the ropes but Farnham just cannot breach their defences. Bond back on as the intensity ramps up, the referee under assessment is fussy but correct, Winchester are starting to creak but still their resolve holds. Oli Brown and Chris Penn are pinning the visitors back but the pressure just will not produce points.
The line-out is working well, Farnham man of the match Steve Simmons and co- rower Angus Harrison are on parity with their opposite numbers and the boys in the bear pit, the front row, Coutts, Davidson and Trodden backed by Dan Ross from the bench are all ramping up the aggression.Time after time attacks are thwarted as this full on fixture moved towards its denouement. With the light fading Farnham have one last chance turnover by Bond and Comley and Chris Penn judges a superb kick to the visitors five metre line. The line out drive held one metre short, Winchester groggy, knock - on game over.
A pulsating game in greasy conditions, the Winchester coaches and staff were delighted with the win and impressed with the Farnham commitment.
The bonus point was the least Farnham deserved and were assured by the opposition that it is only a matter of time before the wins start to come. Encouragement for the Farnham faithful.