U16As beat Camberley in the Quins Cup
By Steve Ratcliffe
The U16As take a win to progress to the finals day of the Quins cup in April
Today was a classic rugby day. Courtesy of Storm Freya (since when did a bit of wind and rain deserve an official name?) the leaden skies promised a grim afternoon but despite this or perhaps even because of it, the rugby shone through the gloaming cutting the dreariness like a laser cuts marshmallow.
Just to recap, the U16As Quins cup campaign had so far seen one win and one loss. Round one was a 17-38 loss at home vs Wimbledon Warriors (who may well be in contention to end up winners of both the Waterfall and the Quins cups this year) and Round two was an excellent away win vs Battersea Ironsides 5-14. So a win vs Camberley today would leave Farnham at 2 from 3 and in the Finals day for the Cup. All to play for then.
The boys were really up for this and despite a few key A's being on the injury list this week (Get well soon Tom and Ben plus anyone else I've missed!), a pretty full team took to the 1's pitch at Wilkinson Way. First from the dressing room in his distinctive pink shirt was our ref for the day, Mike Hudson, fresh from his usual job of reffing Premiership and Championship games. The boys were certainly looking forward to playing under a pro.
Farnham won the toss and elected to play into the wind which any spectator's nose could tell you was coming from the direction of the Sewage works end. This was a calculated risk, intended to give the home side the advantage in the second half when tired legs on both sides would allow Farnham to take advantage of the attacking kicks delivered courtesy of Finlay Anderson's hefty boot. However it did mean that in the first half, the boys would be unlikely to be able to kick their way out of trouble and sure enough, despite some forays into each other's red zones, Camberley for the most part had the home side pinned deep in their own half for at least 65% of the first period. After 15 minutes a penalty for offside handed 3 points to the visitors but testament to the Farnham defence, they kept Camberley from scoring any more points before the ref blew for half time. They'd rather have been in the lead at half time but as First team legend Mike Salmon said, 3-nil down felt like a great result.
In the second half, Camberley started with all guns blazing. Only 5 minutes into the period, a well worked move saw a Black shirt diving over the line to score. The swirling wind was too much for the 10 to convert it so the score remained 0-8 but could the home side fight back? Well the Farnham team gathered and composed themselves. Their game plan from the off had been to kick for territory with the wind behind them and chase the ball to pressurise the oppo into making errors. And sure enough it began to work. A long kick, ably chased resulted in a penalty for Farnham 8m from the camberley line. George Guy took a quick tap, dummied a pass and dove over the line himself to score. 5-8 and the come-back was afoot.
Next to score was Max Campbell-Harris who sought the whitewash with his customary flair. 10-8 and the home side took the lead for the first time. Anderson stepped up to the tee and despite the angle he slotted the conv 12-8.
Finally 6 minutes later, Jake Kimberley used his enormous strength to bludgeon his way through two tacklers to cross the line. Once again Finlay took the conversion as if it was nothing. 19-8 was to be the final score in what had been a thrilling match.
This one had everything. Silky skills, tension, tackles, tactics, tries and a bit of needle to boot. One for the annals. Thanks must go to Camberley who we know will be back again next season; they're a top side. And also to our premiership official, Mike Hudson; it was pleasure to watch a top ref who was completely in control and never put a foot wrong. In the bar after the game he told me that he enjoyed testing his skills at Farnham today even though he's dealt with easier premiership sides! Thanks again Mike - A top bloke.
Even though Podium points could have been given to the whole team, in the end the coaches gave the nod as follows:
3rd place - Sam Wright who carried hard and tackled harder all afternoon
1st= Finlay Anderson and Ollie Wingfield. Finlay for his astonishing prowess with the boot which somehow gets better every week and Ollie for his amazing work-rate and for never letting his ex-camberley colleagues get inside his head. A superb performance all round.
It is a cliche I know but Rugby really was the winner today...