The U16s win against Battersea Ironsides in the Quins Cup second round
By Steve Ratcliffe
The U16s travelled to Battersea Ironsides for a key match in the Quins cup and came away with a satisfying win
Battersea Ironsides have always been a quality side but I can't remember the last time we had a trip to their grounds in Wandsworth - Possibly U11s I would guess, when they had a fearsome reputation. Returning there today felt like old times and with the Farnham boys' place in the Quins cup at stake, it was all to play for. Jeremy Campbell-Harris summed it up best when he said how much he'd missed "all this" - I will leave it to you to decide whether it was the weather, the quality of the rugby or the touchline ambiance he was referring to!
The game started well and after 5 minutes of tense backwards and forwards play, the Farnham forwards started to dominate play, camping out inside the oppo's 22 for phase after phase. On two occasions a dominant attacking scrum 10m out gave the boys a platform to score from but strong defence from Battersea prevented the try from coming.
Eventually a lovely break from Max Campbell-Harris saw him force his way over the line to score in the far corner. Fin Anderson was on kicking duty today and he'd clearly had his Weetabix because a fantastically hit ball whistled from the tee only 2m in from the touchline to clear the bar with ease. 0-7 the score with 23 minutes on the clock.
After the restart, the kick return once again saw the Farnham forwards truck the ball up to the 22 in style. In a virtual repeat of the first try, another 10m attacking scrum saw Tom Garner execute the 8 pick before being heavily double tackled 3m from the line. He still managed a Vunipola like offload "out the back" to Sam Johnston who deftly dobbed the ball down in the same corner as Max C-H had scored in only 5 minutes before. Once again the unerring boot of F. Anderson Esq bisected the posts from the touchline and the score was now 0-14 at 28 minutes into the first 35 minute period of play.
Ironsides were down but not at all out and a couple of Farnhamian handling errors and a missed tackle saw them streaming down the right touchline and into the Farnham 22. The Farnham defence was resolute and held the Ironsides back for the next 7 minutes before a knock on occurred and the Ref blew the half time whistle. However it was pointed out to the ref that whilst the boys had played for 35 minutes, he hadn't allowed for any stoppage time so the ref decided to reverse his decision and have the scrum after all! The Ironsides attack continued to batter the Farnham line. Eventually a penalty was conceded by a Farnham player entering the side of the ruck and this was quickly taken behind the ref's back to get Battersea off the mark. A failed conversion left the score at 5-14 and eventually, 49 minutes after the kick off, the first half ended!
Whilst the penalty count built strongly in the second half, the scoreline did not. A characteristically brave tackle by Ben Atkins resulted in a knock that sadly saw him leave the field and at one point, Farnham found themselves playing with only 13 men but despite this, their defence remained impenetrable.
So final score was 5-14 to Farnham. Thanks must go to a spirited Ironside team who, despite difficult conditions, played the game with honour and in accordance with what Nigel Owens would call "Rugby Values". After the game we were welcomed into the Ironsides clubhouse for a warm up and for the boys a hot dog and a chance to compare stories.
Podium points were awarded to
3) Ben Atkins for his bravery
2) Louis Thomas and Sam Johnston for their willingness to play scrum half for the first time ever and in a cup match!
1) Mattie Hodson for his endless chop tackles all morning
With no rest for the wicked, next Sunday sees us back up the A3 again for a return match against Wimbledon Warriors, this time in the Waterfall cup semi final. Bring it!