U16As lose to Wimbledon Warriors in the Waterfall Cup Semi-Final
By Steve Ratcliffe
The scoreline flattered slightly to deceive but the Galacticos of home side Wimbledon Warriors came out on top in the end despite the Farnham boys playing like lions
This week's trip for the U16 As up the A3 was to Old Wimbledonians for the long awaited Semi-Final of the Waterfall Cup. Unlike last weekend's A3 trip to Battersea Ironsides, the weather was beautiful but would the rugby be similarly attractive?
Old Wimbledonians had narrowly beaten the U16s in the Quins Cup only a few weeks ago at home and so the boys were keen to get one back for Farnham. They'd also put 64 points over neighbours Camberley recently. The OW team who had made the trek to Farnham had featured a number of talented players but the side taking to their home pitch counted at least 4 Surrey As and various Quins superstars, including the Surrey Captain, the Surrey 8 (Playing at prop!), a Surrey lock fast enough to play fullback and Surrey's Fastest Winger. Despite a few missing for half term, Farnham were able to field a strong side, including our Surrey Hooker, Max Campbell-Harris and our own Surrey flankers Max Parker and Sam Wright but we all knew this would be a big ask.
The boys were fired up for the K/O which was magnificently taken by wonder 10, Finlay Anderson, who continued to kick like Owen Farrell on one of his better days. The Warriors were clearly expecting an easy ride this morning but it was clear from the off that this was not one of the available options. Fin's pinpoint kicking from hand was putting the boys into all the right places on the pitch and the scrum was firing on all cylinders despite the obvious height and weight disadvantage. Only at the line out did the Farnham boys have to give second best to Wimbledon's physical advantage. Eventually the back and forth saw the Warriors over the line. Unconverted 5-0.
The boys immediately set to applying pressure back and at 22 minutes into the half, the Warriors conceded a penalty inside Finlay's kicking range. Captain Chris Ratcliffe pointed to the sticks and inevitably Finlay took advantage. 5-3.
The Warriors were rattled but still believed their class would show through so it was very satisfying when 2 minutes later the Farnham boys were back in their 22. One of George Guy's many quick tap pens resulted in a long floaty pass to towards the wing where Max Campbell-Harris was lurking to pick it up off his bootstraps and score. Another Finlay conversion and the score was suddenly 5-10 and the home side didn't look so sure of themselves. However the fight had taken its toll and Max C-H's shoulder was a casualty. Shortly thereafter Finlay also succumbed and had to be subbed off. Two key players down was going to hurt.
Soon enough, the Warriors shipped the ball to their big number 1 who flattened a couple of Farnhamites on his way to the line. 10-10. Were the Farnham boys out now? Not a bit of it. An attacking scrum saw a beautiful dummy run from George Guy towards the open side before he deftly passed to 8 Chris Ratcliffe on the blind who dragged two tacklers over the line with him to score. 10-17 was a very nice way to end the half and now the Warriors were seriously worried this was going to get away from them.
The effort expended in the first half by the Farnham boys was immense but along with the key injuries, it left the tank somewhat depleted for the second period. So for the next 30 minutes, the Galacticos put on a show, scoring 5 tries and 3 conversions for 31 unanswered points to make the scoreline 41-17. The Farnham boys would have been excused if their heads had dropped a bit at this point but in a feat of pure defiance, a series of bruising carries saw the team 2m short of the line and specialist defense breaker, Sam Wright, forced his way over to score moments before the final whistle blew.
41-22 makes it sound like a bit of a rout for the Warriors and a 5 try haul in the second half was a display of pure power by 3 of their top athletes but it didn't take anything away from a strong Farnham performance. Wimbledon proceed to the final vs the winner of todays match between Reeds and Effingham and Farnham go home to lick their wounds.
All the boys played with immense skill and determination and were only beaten through the exceptional and creditable performance of a couple of individual athletes. Our boys should be justly proud of their performance today - to have given the Warriors a genuine scare was a real achievement.
Podium points were awarded by the coaches as follows:
3 -Scott Atchison who was playing his first A game today - He needn't have worried. He performed out of his skin and we look forward to many more podium places in the future.
2 - George Guy who consistently made great decisions all morning. If Wimbledon had not learned before today about quick tap penalties, they have now.
1 - Chris Ratcliffe who played a real captain's innings and worked his socks off for the team