Great Team Effort Leads to Last Gasp Victory
Bare 15 come from behind in last moments to clinch important league win.
With a few illnesses in the first team, the second XV were stripped back to a bare 15 players for the journey up to Old Paulines. Undeterred the Hornets elected to receive the kick-off and immediately began to carry the ball well in the forwards.
Dan Greene, Craig Macey and Graeme Black all marauded onward with the ball in hand, getting go forward for the team with repeated drives into the gut of the opposition. It was this strong forward play, which lead to the first score. The Hornets yard by yard, drove closer to the line, and Max Westwood finished off. Fullback Mark Baines hit the post with the conversion attempt, a good effort from the far left side line.
Will Jackson, normally in the back-row, and Adam Hailstones manned the centres and did well to prevent the ball moving wide on opposition ball. Relishing the physicality, Jackson tackled fiercely and Hailstones used every opportunity with the ball in hand to find gaps and penetrate midfield.
One attack saw Hailstones streak through midfield and then kick on past the fullback. He then dodged the fullbacks attempted block and managed to score under the posts. The conversion unfortunately sailed wide, but Farnham were 0-10 up.
After revelling in this second try Farnham let their guard down and some good handling by Old Paulines capitalised on the Hornets mistake, allowing them to score in the corner and the ensuing conversion was successful.
Nathaneal Watts-Plumpkin, also playing out of position on the wing, added some fierce hits in midfield, frequently stopping the Old Paulines backline from moving it wide.
On the other wing, Jack Gray did an admiral job. Having only started playing rugby recently and learning his craft in the 3s, he moved up to the 2s and played the full 80 minutes, making several tackles and runs, despite having a pulled hamstring!
Despite pounding the Old Paulines line with sustained attack, Farnham could not get over as the half came to a close. A virtual cap should be doffed to the opposition defence, who managed to stop string carries from Sid Cranstone and Howard Browning. At half time the score was 7-10 with the away side ahead.
The second half kicked off with Old Paulines receiving the ball. A strong attack out wide on the left side of Farnham’s defence saw the ball kicked through. The cruel bounce of the rugby ball took the ball away from the covering defenders and attackers recovered the ball to score under posts. For the first time in the match, Farnham relinquished the lead to the home side.
The Farnham Hornets regrouped and vowed to redouble their efforts, and this lead to a dominant portion of the game for the away side. Tom Foster and Kieran Marshall got around the park making tackle after tackle and forced the referee into giving Farnham a penalty. The Hornets used territory well and kicked successive penalties into touch to march down field.
The efficient lineout ball lead to a rolling maul and Craig Macey drove forward to score. Mark Baines successfully converted to put the Hornets ahead once again.
When play resumed, Old Paulines attacked down the right. Following his earlier try, Max Westwood made an outstanding tackle on the right wing, forcing the opposition ball carrier into touch.
Entering the last 20 minutes of the game, Farnham maintained their tempo and strong forward play. The scrum continued to dominate, anchored by veteran player-coach Sid Cranstone. The Hornets used the scrum as a platform and attacked with the backs. Filling in at fly-half, Oli Richford ran to the left side, before punting onwards. Good chasing by Adam Hailstones pinned Old Paulines down and forced the mistake.
The Hornets then had a series of scrums on the right hand side, just meters from the line. However on one put-in the ball was kicked out and the Old Paulines backs counter attacked. This then lead to another converted try. This additionally handed the lead back to Old Paulines with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
Frustrated that game seemed to be going against the run of play, Farnham got themselves together and promised themselves that they could still get the win in this match. Re-energised the Hornets kicked off and sprinted up field.
With the ball won back, the Hornets strained every muscle to inch closer and closer to the Old Paulines line. Despite giving the ball away once and on a penalty another time, the Hornets kept coming back. The attack came in waves, sucking defenders in with forward carries and then trying to stretch the field with the backs.
Again and again the attack was repelled, but sometimes illegally, giving penalties to Farnham. As the Hornets were already so close to the Old Paulines line, the decision was made that a scrum would be better than a lineout. Adam Hailstones moved from outside centre on the right side to the left wing. Following the scrum the Hornets forwards drove right a few times before Ben Brown and Oli Richford switched the direction of attack. The ball moved down the back line and Howard Browning threw the final pass to Adam Hailstones, who ran round the defence to score under the posts as time expired.
Baines converted to make the final score 21-24 to Farnham – a brilliant win. Man of the match was jointly awarded to Adam Hailstones, scorer of two tries, and his partner in the centres Will Jackson, for his punishing tackling.
The next match for the Hornets is at home against Old Whitgiftians on the 6th of December.
By Oli Richford