Farnham U15As win to go through to the final round of the Quins Cup
By Steve Ratcliffe
The U15As put in an impressive performance for a convincing win against Old Ruts today. 3 wins from 3 in the group section of the Quins cup is enough for a place in the finals.
There are always two sides in every debate...
In the case of the knotty question of whether the RFU should allow competition at age group rugby level, speaking purely personally, I have swung to both extremes from time to time. The case for the prosecution is that life is competitive so where's the harm in preparing the boys for that. The case for the defence, M'lud, is that in a sport where players mature relatively late, you don't want to put off any players who might have loved the game in later years if it wasn't for over exposure to the emotional and physical rollercoaster of pitched battle before they were ready for it.
At U15s there's no league in which the boys can test their mettle so the Waterfall Cup and the Quins Cup provide the only formal competitive forum for the boys to find out where they are as a team against their peers. It is a rare opportunity and one the boys relish.
So this morning, there was an edge which just doesn't seem to be present when preparing for "just another a friendly". A trip to see Old Ruts at their Lavender Park pitch has always provided a close encounter and the boys were looking forward to honing their attack and strengthening their defence against opponents who had bested the Farnham squad in an early season encounter at Aldershot last September. With a place in the prestigious Quins Cup Finals at stake, this was a serious encounter.
After a perfect kick off from Finlay Anderson, ably gathered by Farnham hands, the boys started to turn the screw early doors with an impressive display of pressure rugby. The Old Ruts were perhaps guilty of being a bit sleepy at first and just couldn't get possession let alone territory. The first try came after only 3 minutes when Sam Wright was in position for a pick and go at the base of the ruck on the Ruts try line, using his strength and aggression to force the ball over the line. Finlay Anderson then executed the first of what was to be many superb kicks for a 7-0 lead.
The second Farnham try came only 5 minutes later when Tom Garner made a superb run to pop the ball down in the corner, a position from which even the golden boot of Finlay Anderson couldn't quite convert. 12-0
This galvanised the Ruts who fought back, busting the impressive looking black and white defensive line for a score at the other end. 12-5 and would this be the start of a Ruttish comeback?
Well - the answer to that question was a firm "No way". What followed were three superb tries. Firstly from Will Partridge (Conv Anderson) secondly from an excellent line break from Ben Atkins and the third from an impressive looking Max Campbell-Harris who seems to be going from strength to strength, breaking defensive lines almost at will.
By half-time the score was 29-5 and there seemed to be plenty more in the tank but would the Ruts find their feet now?
Well the second half began just as impressively for the Farnham boys as the first. A series of collapsed scrums caused the referee to look carefully at the Ruts front row which was buckling under the pressure of eight of Farnham's finest and for the sake of everyone's safety, it was agreed by both sides that uncontested scrums would be necessary. Despite giving up their set piece advantage, Farnham's pressure continued to tell on the Ruts and Max Campbell-Harris was soon in place for a second try under the posts with another from Toby Richards following it in quick succession.
With the scoreline now looking secure at 43-5, the Farnham coaches started to consider a programme of substitutions aimed at giving more players some quality game time. The change of personnel evened up the sides a little and the Ruts took advantage to score a converted try 43-12. They say the mark of a great side is that they always have another gear. Here the team really impressed by responding to a ruts resurgence. A lovely grubber kick from Tom Garner into the dead ball zone was ably chased down by Jake Epps to score. Then another try, this time from Alfie McCormick, once again converted by Finlay.
The final score - a dominant 55-12. Nine tries and four conversions for Farnham - Is that an U15 record? An impressive performance from a strong side. If they can maintain that level all the way to the final, where will they end up? Who knows but all the boys can do is to take it one game at a time.
Sam awarded the podium points as follows:
3) Max Parker and William Partridge jointly
2) Max Campbell-Harris
1) Ben Atkins
So, a dominant performance against a team who beat us earlier in the season and a useful yardstick to gauge the boys' progress. Would they have had the same measure, the same commitment, the same focus if today's match had been a friendly? Maybe yes, maybe no - you decide.