Citius, Altius, Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger
The U14s had a tough game vs our old foes at Chobham who are top of the table. A closely fought and highly entertaining game ensued
It was Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who said "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."
This afternoon the U14s may not have conquered but they certainly fought well.
Gordon's school, Woking, was today's venue for a nail biting match against our old friends at Chobham. Our equivalent age group at Chob have always been a competitive bunch, ably coached by our own Head Coach Dominic's brother Matt and featuring at hooker Dominic's nephew Charlie. Chobham have had a great League campaign so far, beating Reeds Weybridge 10-0 earlier in the season. Reeds of course had given us a sound thrashing last week and so the boys were keen to get back on that horse with a strong performance.
Max Campbell-Harris was at the helm today and took the centre of the pitch for the toss and a Trump vs Clinton like pre-match handshake. Chob won the toss and chose to play down the hill for the first half which, given the deceptively steep pitch, was a good decision. The game was on. Chobham have a reputation for being fierce at the breakdown and it was this aspect of their game which had been Reeds' downfall. Our boys knew they would have to compete strongly to counter it.
And counter it they did! For the first 10 minutes of the game there was nothing to choose between the two sides. Both fought valiantly. Farnham gave away a few too many penalties in the period but much of the play was in the opposition half and Farnham had the best of the possession too. It was an encouraging start.
And then, slightly against the run of play, Farnham gave away another penalty for offside after along kick towards their try line. A great step from the Chob 10 and a missed tackle resulted in a score under the posts which was easily converted to leave the score at 7-0. Despite the strength sapping hill it had been a great start to the match and there had been nothing to choose between the sides other than that score. In previous matches, going a try or two down would have caused the boy's heads to drop a little but not this time.
Farnham fought back, climbing the gradient once again to press the Chobham hordes but eventually another penalty for Chob was quickly taken. The Chobham backs swiftly distributed the ball and a second missed tackle left a hole in the defence through which a Chobhamite back deftly slipped. A second try and a second conversion left us 14-0 down and the half time whistle brought proceedings to a temporary close.
Dominic's half time talk consisted mostly of encouragement to keep up the work rate. A shift would be required by all 15 on the pitch and those on the bench. With the benefit of the hill to aid the tired legs, 10 minutes into the second half, Max Campbell-Harris took the ball on a great line and scored from 10m out to the left of the posts. Tom Garner soon converted and the score was now 14-7.
5 minutes later a second Farnham try, potentially equalising the score, looked like a foregone conclusion as Tom Garner bolted towards the try line only to be stopped with inches to go by a brave Chobham full back. A penalty for holding on gave the turnover to Chobham but the Farnham boys fought on, knowing that a superb victory was still possible.
The remaining 10 minutes of the second half was spent in fierce battle with nothing to choose between the sides. At the full time whistle, both sides knew they had been in a fair contest. Congratulations were due all round and, aside from a pair of missed tackles, the result could have easily gone Farnham's way; it was that close.
During the post match de-brief, Dominic and Sam explained that the attitude of the boys was the real difference in this match and that despite the defeat, the boys should be incredibly proud of how far they have come in terms of temperament and never say die gumption.
Special mentions in dispatches went to Finlay Anderson for his kicking, Sam Wright for his competitiveness, Jake Epps for his scrummaging and for not missing a throw in all game, Aston Ulisse for his speed, sharpness and jinkery and once again Tom Garner and Max C-H for some great runs. 3rd place on the podium went to Toby Richards who had a storming game. 2nd place went to Ben Atkins who made a real difference in his first A game following his return from injury. But first place went to Tom Casali who was at his combative best all game.
What a team performance!
I'm not sure you'll find a "KFC Bargain Bucket" on the England team nutritionist's list of approved meals but for the Farnham boys it was a rare treat, well earned. Baron de Coubertin might have encouraged the early Olympians to seek to be Faster, Higher and Stronger but for our boys' post match meal they were more interested in Colonel Sanders' encouragement for the chicken to be "Finger Lickin' Good". Wrong restaurant I know but they were soon "Lovin it!"
Well done boys :-)