U16As lose first round Quin's cup match against quality opposition from Wimbledon Warriors
By Steve Ratcliffe
A tough day in the office for the U16As saw them come second best to a very physical side from Wimbledon Warriors despite some positive aspects
Last year's Quins cup campaign for our age group as U15As was an extraordinarily successful one in which our boys only narrowly lost to strong opposition from Effingham in the Final. It is fair to say that last year the Farnham draw was not as difficult as it could have been but the boys performed out of their skins to take second place in the comp and it could so easily have been first place and some silverware on the day.
This year's draw is a real tester. Round one was today's game against Wimbledon Warriors whose reputation is one of the strongest in the county. Round 2 is against Battersea Ironsides who have historically been a top team and round 3 is against Camberley who, despite their proximity, we hadn't played for a while until a few weeks ago when a mixed side struggled against their top team in a squad friendly.
The Warriors proved to be a very physical side. Conscious of their slow start against Chipstead a couple of weeks ago, the boys knew they would have to impose themselves from the off and for the first 5 minutes it looked as if their intensity and good ball retention would allow them to compete on an equal footing despite a substantial difference in height and in many cases weight, man for man.
It wasn't long though before Wimbledon showed their class. Their forwards put in some big hits, particularly from their brick outhouse like number eight, and some of these tackles dislodged the ball for their backs to take advantage of. 10 minutes into the first half a well worked move, although it included a knock on seen only by the TMO, resulted in a score in the right corner, ably converted by their 10 despite the wind to leave Wimbledon 7-0 up.
The slightly discombobulated Farnham boys fluffed the restart which lead to a scrum on the half way line and the well drilled Wimbedonians used the platform to eventually put their lightning fast left winger over the line for a second score 12-0.
Their third came shortly thereafter when another nicely judged backs move gave their captain and fullback an opportunity to burn round the outside of a narrowed Farnham defence to score again. 17-0 and the Farnham boys were wondering what had hit them.
28 minutes into the first half the Wimbledon 8 acquired a yellow card for a high tackle but even this didn't slow them down much and it wasn't long before a miscommunication between two Farnham backs led to an interception try moments before the half time whistle.
And so the first half ended four tries down at 24-0 - It would be easy to conclude from the scoreline that the Farnham boys hadn't been in the game much but there were some real positives. Once again, despite giving away a good few centimetres and a significant number of kilos in the scrum, the Farnham set piece had been dominant, pushing their opponents off the ball easily until the 2m rule curtailed their shove. The lineout similarly had worked like a dream with Max Parker being hoisted by the front lifting pod to win the vast majority of their own put-ins and a good number of the oppo's.
Taking the message to heart that their first half performance didn't show what they are really capable of, the boys took to the field to show their metal in the second.
Sure enough, first over the whitewash was Chris Ratcliffe who followed up some strong carries from Max Campbell-Harris and Ollie Wingfield with a superb pick and leg drive and a twisting stretch to score - they were off the mark at 24-5.
The next score was to Wimbledon from a lucky interception. 31-5 galvanised the Farnham boys further to produce superb tries from both Jake Kimberley and Alfie McCormick to take the score to 31-17. By now about 2/3rds of the second half was done and although the boys were coming into their own, the clock was not their friend. Just to add insult to injury, another interception try in the dying minutes of the game gifted another 7 pointer to worthy winners Wimbledon.
So the final score was 38-17 to Wimbledon. Not perhaps the Farnham boys' finest hour but there were some strong positives to take from the game. The Forwards had put in a dominant performance at the set piece and despite some crunching hits from Wimbledon had come out at least evens with the opposition's pack in spite of the size difference. The killer had proven to be the team's handling and defensive effort with three converted tries having been gifted to Wimbledon via breakaways or interceptions, without which the final score might have been a 17-17 draw.
Of course "what if's" count for nothing in this game but there were at least a healthy number of positives to take despite the scoreline. Particularly from the set piece from which we have yet to find a team who can beat ours. We look forward to a second opportunity to use this experience to come out on top when we play the Warriors again in the Waterfall cup Semi Final in a few weeks time.
Podium points were awarded to the following:
3 - Max Parker (and his lifters) for a superb line out performance
2 - Max C-H for some equally pin point line out throws
1 - Ollie Wingfield for his workrate, scrummaging, carries and strength at the breakdown