U14As deliver another strong performance vs Weybridge Vandals
By Steve Ratcliffe
Farnham U14As produce another strong performance to win against a tough Weybridge Vandals team in the U14 Surrey Round Robin League
I don't think the U14s have ever played Weybridge Vandals away before and as the Farnham convoy left the Shepherd and Flock in the rearview mirror we wondered whether we would be playing them today; the rain was of biblical proportions and given the Weybridge pitches are almost in the Thames we thought a boat might have been the better transport option. However, half way across the Hog's Back, the rain just stopped and the roads dried giving hope to the Farnham faithful and by the time we threaded our way to Vandals' home turf it was as if the rains had never fallen thanks to some amazingly effective drainage on their No.1 pitch. The designated field of play might have been as flat as something not very flat at all but at least the game was on.
After the traditional Glaswegian warm up, the boys came out of the changing rooms to face a substantial Vandals side.The Vandals forwards looked formidably large, particularly their 8 who was head and shoulders taller than most of the Farnham boys. The Farnham wolf pack have become used to dominating their opposition but today was a different story. At the first ruck Vandals cleared out ferociously and the boys coughed up the possession regularly. They were being shredded and it was beginning to look like it might be a long morning.
However, after the initial shock and conceding a hatful of penalties, the boys really showed their character. It took 10 minutes to find their feet and a way of maintaining possession but soon enough phases were being strung together and the boys rumbled towards the Vandals try line. Chris Ratcliffe found himself in the right place at the right time and with great body position he forced his way over to score from a nifty blind side pick and go. Finlay hit the upright in his attempted conversion to leave the score at 5-0.
During the course of the next 10 minutes, the boys continued to tighten the screw and the Vandals buckled under the pressure. They were very physical though and some heavy hits resulted first in the retirement of Adam Ogilvie with a significant egg shaped bump on the head and then subsequently Tom Garner also with an HIA. The loss of two key backs in short succession was a big miss and the boys needed time to reshuffle but Max Campbell-Harris dropped back from the scrum into the centre and taking the ball at speed he was able to gas past the Vandals full back to score in the corner. A great try was followed by a superb conversion from Finlay Anderson to take the score to 12-0 with 5 minutes of the half remaining.
Dominic gave the boys a suitably encouraging half time talk. It was clear that the numbers of boys the Vandals were committing to the rucks was leaving holes we could exploit in their defence. Never the less the tackles were going in hard. The work rate from messrs Milner, Parker, Partridge, Geeves and Smith was astonishing and it never looked like Vandals would score. Max Parker had an especially strong game, propping against and dominating his significantly bigger opposite number. 15 minutes into the second half, that man Max C-H grappled over the line again with a super try to take the score to 17-0.
By this time the intensity of the game drove both sides to bring on their benches and Weybridge finally managed to make an impression on the thin Black and White line. Two of Vandals Surrey players , 9 and 12 combined very effectively to punch a hole and the 12 popped the ball down under the sticks for a consolation converted try.
And so it ended 17-7. The result was never in doubt but credit must go to Vandals who put up a superb fight. If they had been able to get the ball out to their backs as effectively as Farnham had, the scoreline would undoubtedly have been much closer.
It remained only to retire to the clubhouse for hotdogs and a Vandals tradition of having the boys take part in a River Water (Coke and Orange juice) drinking race. Thanks very much to Vandals for the most entertaining game of the season. The boys and the spectators had a blast.
Man of the match was Finlay Anderson who performed out of his skin all morning. His kicking out of hand never failed to find space and his offloading runs were an education.