Wasted Opportunities punish Farnham
The last two seasons fixtures have produced some very tight encounters and this was to be no exception.
Testing conditions - a sticky dog of a pitch and a chilly driving wind greeted the teams as they emerged from the tunnel at Monkton Lane.
Buoyed by their battle against league aspirants London Cornish, KCS Old Boys - currently fifth in the league - were the opponents.
The last two seasons fixtures have produced some very tight encounters and this was to be no exception - the first to blink generally loses on these occasions.
Chris Penn commenced proceedings at the kick off and back came KCS with a series of driving skirmishes around the edge of the mauls, the safest way to clear your lines. Not what the crowd want to see but a feature of current rugby tactics which, like the line out maul, is almost impossible to counter or defend against.
The scene was set, playing into the wind, KCS were going to test the Farnham pack at line-out, scrum - which began to creak ominously from the onset - and maul. In the loose, at line-out and in open play Farnham competed. With Penn and Salmon pinning back the visitors with raking kicks into their 22 metre area the pressure began to build.
One such kick from Penn produced a line-out. Farnham - through the Davidson - Harrison throw and catch combination - secured the ball. Franklin and Trodden on the drive with Bond in control at the back. Vital yards gained as KCS defend. The ball released to scrum half Oli Brown through the hands to the lurking O'Connor. No! A poor pass behind the speeding winger is knocked on and KCS awarded a territory relieving scrum. The first scoring opportunity is squandered.
With the wind to their advantage and forecast to increase over the day the home team need points. From a series of probing attacks fly-half Chris Penn takes the initiative and slots an audacious drop goal from the half way line with Wilkinsonesque technique. 3-0.
Still Farnham play the territory game in what is becoming a scrappy half. KCS respond and with one of their first forays deep into the Farnham half the home backs drift offside - penalty calmly taken by the confident Wannock.
The next ten minutes saw Farnham put the pressure back on the visitors and sadly it was a case of "what might have been". An Oli Brown hack through and Farnham held up two metres short. Frustration and enthusiasm mount so Farnham are penalised for going to ground. In the next minute a repeat scoring chance is butchered as Akin-Oligbade is held up agonisingly close with the support players just unable to capitalise on his burst through the defence. A consolation penalty is no real return as effectively three potentially game changing opportunities have gone begging. 6-3 to Farnham at the break.
KCS through stand-out forwards Kiddle, Walton and Humphries start the second half driving back the Farnham forwards at the scrum and maul. With the wind at their backs KCS are now on the front foot. Farnham change tactics and put boot to ball with low pressure relieving kicks. Gradually, the impetus changes and quick ball from the base allows centre Mike Salmon to breach the visitors defence before releasing the pocket rocket figure of Tom O'Connor who outstrips the covering would be tacklers to score in the corner. 11-3.
Territorially Farnham are pinned back in the game of two halves. The wind increasing and the pressure mounting - a sustained period of KCS attacks results in the lanky 8 Humphries bursting on to a pop pass to score under the posts. With the Wannop extras the score is 11-10. Nail biting time!
KCS up the ante at scrum time and the referee has no choice - penalty - Wannop and the lead for the first time 11-13 for KCS.
Try as they do Farnham's bite does not live up to the bark and they are constantly pushed back into their own half. A twenty phase break out ends in similar frustrating fashion as the move finally breaks down in the visitors 22 - a raking kick - penalty - and Wannop increase the visitors lead to 11-16.
The wind has been the extra man. KCS to their credit have made better use of it. Farnham will rue their missed chances and whilst they take a losing bonus point a win was possible. With Tadley picking up two bonus points Farnham sink back to the bottom of the table. Wins are needed to ensure survival and chances need to be taken.
Mike Salmon - 3 - solid throughout and a real line breaker.
Chas Penn 2 - gained vital yards every time he got the ball.
Buster Bond 1 - a nuisance on the flank all afternoon.
Judges KCS Chairman and Coach