Farnham U15s take second place in the Quins Cup
Rugby was the real winner today as Farnham lose their 1st/2nd place final in the Quins Cup by the narrowest of margins against a talented side from Effingham and Leatherhead
Well what better way to bring the U15s season to a magnificent denouement than by taking to the field for a home final in the prestigious "Quins Cup". The U15s have waged a magnificent campaign this year. To recap, the competition started in Round one with an impressive 45-0 bonus point win against Haslemere back in January. Round 2 should have been an interesting match against Cranleigh but they withdrew to leave us with a walk over. Round 3 in April was then a legendary trip to Old Ruts where the boys pulled off an immense 55-12 win to gain a second bonus point in the Competition and a +88 points difference. This earned Farnham their place in the final as a result of a greater points difference than Reeds who had similarly scored two BP wins and a walkover.
So our boys rightfully took their place at the top table of Surrey U15 rugby undefeated. E&L had a similarly impressive campaign with three BP wins vs Sutton and Epsom, Cobham and Chipstead. The two top teams in the county head to head was a prospect not to be missed and the crowd who gathered around pitch 3 on this Quins Cup Final day were salivating at the prospect.
The weather was dry but a bitter wind from the east should have made kicking an interesting prospect. The ferocity of the wind only served to highlight the sheer brilliance of Finlay Anderson who kicked magnificently and never better than from his kick off to bring the curtain up on the titanic battle ahead. The kick off was fumbled forwards by the E&L receiver leading to an initial scrum - Farnham ball. The E&L forwards must have had a 5kg per man weight advantage and so it seemed a hard day at the office was in prospect when the front rows popped up under pressure at the first shove. The second scrum was bit better but it was clear E&L had an advantage at the set piece.
However that advantage didn't fluster the power and athleticism of Max Campbell-Harris who, against the general direction of play, opened the scoresheet for the home side with a beautiful run from the E&L 22 to force his way to ground the ball on the whitewash. The swirling wind didn't trouble Finlay Anderson who slotted the conversion and the score was 7-0 Farnham.
E&L hadn't lost their composure however and what followed was just the display of talent and power we feared they were capable of. Their first try came from an astonishing line, run by their speedy second row, who found a gap that wasn't there to score. Their kicker, who was spotted before the match putting over balls from the half way line, kicked what was to be the first of many conversions and the score was equal at 7-7.
Next a second try; this time for an Eagle's back as far in the corner as humanly possible and again converted. 7-14.
Finally a third Eagle try, the second for their number 5 this time under the posts. Yet another conversion for their kicker who who literally could have taken the extra 2 points blindfolded. 7-21 was the score; was the game getting away from the Farnham team of warriors?
Not a bit of it. Farnham ganders were well and truly up. Chris Ratcliffe made a break and two rucks later, a superb pass finally found its way through the hands of Tom Garner and Adam Ogilvie, to Ben Atkins who stepped an E&L Defender whilst simultaneously passing deftly to his left to put Ben Cregeen on the wing with the ball. Ben opened the taps and burned past two Eagles defenders to touch the ball down beautifully in the corner. 12-21. Up steps Anderson with the kicking tee. His heart must have been thrashing the inside of his rib cage but you'd never have known it. Cool as a cucumber recently taken from the deep freeze, Finlay's unerring boot slotted a touchline conversion as if it was just another Wednesday evening training sesh. Moments later the whistle blew to end the first half.
14-21 - the Farnham boys were only a single score behind and had withstood a ferocious onslaught. The second half would see the wind at their backs - how would it turn out?
Well the second half started with E&L trucking their way up the pitch and after Farnham gave away a penalty inside the kickable range of E&L's Owen Farrell substitute, the result was a foregone conclusion despite the wind. 14-24
In response, Farnham galvanised their attack and soon found Alfie McCormick on the left wing who gassed his way to the corner flag, slicing through a couple of bemused Eagle defenders. This time the wind swirled left and right and just defeated Finlay's boot. 19-24 and all to play for.
Then began the most astonishing sequence of events surely ever to grace a final at this level. With a 5 point deficit and 15 minutes to go our boys knuckled down and showed their class. An illegal tackle from an E&L's player saw him sent to the touchline for 10 minutes. With a key man in the bin, E&L's defence faltered and Farnham started to camp on the Eagle's 22. Wave after wave of Farnham attacks drove them on and up to the 5 m line whereupon E&L's ship began to leak penalty after penalty for multiple offside infringements. The tactic worked to keep Farnham out of the end zone. At one point Sam Wright found himself in a familiar position carrying the ball fearlessly into a green and yellow wall without consideration to his personal safety. A "no arms" tackle, which stopped our Sam from reaching the try line, elicited another penalty. The Farnham Faithful were hoping for more than just another penalty, especially since Sam had sacrificed his nose to the cause of winning the game for his team, but the ref's decision was final. A total of seven penalties were given against the Eagles during the 10 minutes they spent pinned against their try line by the relentless force of the entire Farnham team. Yet the try Farnham so richly deserved didn't come - A testament to the staunch Eagles defensive line. 5 points would have put the U15s equal and an Anderson conversion would have left them winners. But it just wasn't to be.
When the final whistle blew for the end of the second 30 minutes of pitched battle, the Eagles flew off with the spoils leaving the Black and Whites to lick their wounds. However, heads were rightly unbowed and the moral victory of a second half played with passion and won resoundingly, was firmly in their pockets.
Congratulations must go to The U15 Eagles - they played the game with clinical efficiency and deservedly came out on top in the end. It was a match that will remain lodged in the memory banks for some time. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to play next season and we will look forward to it.
This Season has seen the Farnham U15s go from strength to strength. Every member of the U15 squad must take massive heart from this performance and indeed the Development team's similarly magnificent effort in their final last weekend. Our boys may not have finished this final ahead on points but they will go into the U16s in the knowledge that they have developed their talents magnificently, displayed their passion for the game proudly and have played the game like gentlemen. Our boys have become young men before our eyes. Quite literally, in the humble opinion of your correspondent, you can't ask for more than that.
If you've read this far without dropping off, there's one more thing to say. On behalf of all of us on the touchline I would like to propose a massive thank-you to all of the coaching team who have as always given so generously of their time and effort to help our boys. I won't bore for Britain even further by naming them all but I'd like to single out Sam Foskett, Dominic Parker and Alistair Mylchreest as the glue which binds the U15s together to make them greater than the sum of their parts. In addition, I would like to offer a word of thanks to Mike Salmon and all of the 1st team players who have also given up time from their busy lives to help polish and nurture the U15s in training this season. Their support on the touchline for the final was very much appreciated.
So I would leave you with (some of) the words of Rudyard Kipling's "If" which says it all for me:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Enjoy the tour. Have a great Summer. See you all in September no doubt...