Guildford pip L'Escargots in the Cup
By Mark Weeks
An entertaining game of cup rugby sets up a mouthwatering return league fixture on 4th March.
Farnham pitched up at Guildford for the knockout stages of the Surrey Vets Cup in confident mood and with a sizeable squad. With some confusion over availability Farnham took to the field without any specialist half backs although full credit to Ben Wynde who stepped in admirably at 9 and the evergreen Craig McGowan who took the reins at fly half.
Guildford are a quality outfit, as their club status suggests, and quickly took advantage of the unfamiliarity of the Farnham back line with a well worked try from quick recycled ball allowing their pacy winger to score in the corner in the opening few minutes. After the conversion was missed Farnham expected something of an onslaught, which they duly got, but managed to keep the home team off the whitewash with some powerful tackling from backrowers Alex Cordi and Buster Bond. This effort was matched across the field, epitomised by the defensive work of the two centres, Jemi Akin-Olugbade and Ed Griffiths.
With the scrums at deadlock with no team gaining advantage but with Guildford winning nearly all the line out the game settled into a fast paced (for vets rugby) arm wrestle. On the 25th minute, after a solid team effort the ball was spun out to Jemi just outside the opposition 22 and he ghosted through a gap to score Farnham's first try which was well converted by Terry Raven to give Farnham a 5-7 lead which they held going into halftime.
The second period continued to be a combative and close encounter with the referee doing a good job of policing the breakdown and allowing all players to remain on the pitch, in keeping with the good nature of the game. Guildford scored 10 minutes into the second half but again it was out wide and Guildford failed to convert again, 10-7.
With Jemi now settled into the fly half berth after taking over duties half way through the first half Farnham swiftly responded with yet another telling break from him, this time feeding Martin Deadman for an easy canter in for their second try. The conversion was missed but Farnham now led 10-12 and were looking the more dangerous with ball in hand. Guildford then started to kick intelligently in an attempt to pin Farnham deep in their own territory. This was a tactic that was working for them but only after a 10 minute spell of heroic game line defence were Farnham deemed to have infringed giving Guildford the opportunity to go into the lead, 13-12.
More monumental tackling from both sides ensued with Farnham now in full attack mode with the game drawing to an end. With 5 minutes left Farnham were again penalised at the breakdown, only this time in range, and Guildford seized the opportunity to increase their lead and force Farnham to go for the try.
A tense final few moments followed with several forays into Guildford's 22 but they ran out of time. Guildford winning 16-12 in an entertaining game of cup rugby setting up a mouthwatering return fixture, this time in the league, at Farnham on 4th March.