The U13As draw with Effingham to become Premier league champions!
In a bruising top of the table encounter, Farnham U13As play the definitive game of two halves against superb opposition to draw against Effingham
The U13As have had a heck of a season so far having been unbeaten in their first 4 league encounters. They began in October by beating a surprised Reeds Weybridge side who clearly weren't expecting much of a contest and followed up with a bruising bonus point win against a lack lustre Guildford side. The boys then had a superb bonus point win against Camberley who failed to make much of an impression and then almost threw it away whilst half asleep against bogey team Chobham, in the end grinding out an ugly win much as England did against Scotland yesterday.
Effingham and Leatherhead have had a similarly star studded season, winning all four of their games so far, also scoring 2 bonus points along the way. This performance left them on exactly the same 22 points as Farnham going into this crucial game but Farnham had a points difference of +65 vs Effingham's +58 meaning that we occupied the top spot in the table despite having an identical points score.
What a great way to end a fantastically hard fought league to have the two top teams in the top division on exactly the same points score going into the final game. To quote Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus "The Winner takes it all"!
The U13s had already played a friendly against Effingham and Leatherhead this season so the Farnham boys knew exactly how tough a game this would be. The friendly had been played away on a claggy pitch at Effingham in horrible conditions where our only sub was injured in the warm up. The score on that occasion was 10-0 to E&L and the hope was that with a full squad on a decent pitch and with home advantage, the scoreline would be closer. Who knew just how close it would end up being!
The U13As had turned out early, both to support the Bs in their match against Esher and also to get their "Heads in the game" early to avoid a repeat of the Chobham experience. By the time they came out of the tunnel and onto the pitch, each boy crashing into a tackle bag in the process, they were certainly fired up and raring to go.
Finlay Anderson started the game with a well judged drop kick and immediately the chase by Aston Ulisse meant we kept possession and the game was on! The forwards played like demons going through the phases and with disciplined play we denied E&L the oxygen of possession, camping out inside their 22 for most of the first 20 minutes. E&L’s discipline under such relentless pressure was poor and referee, Paul Brooker, had to penalize them for a number of offsides, hands in the ruck and Foot Up for their hooker.
Eventually, the staunch E&L defence had to crack and crack it did. 12 minutes into the first half another penalty was tapped by George Guy and passed to Chris Ratcliffe who took it into contact. Chris was driven back but managed a neat offload to Dylan Milner who managed a George Ford like chip, directly into the hands of Aston Ulisse who caught it on the try line and immediately touched down to score. It was a try that any premiership team would have been proud of! The conversion from the left touchline was too far for Finlay Anderson but the score was a well deserved 5-0.
The boys continued in the same vein for the remainder of the half, playing all the rugby and working their socks off but the E&L defense stood strong and no further scores were seen.
In the second half, the boys started well, dominating the set piece but the spectators could see that Effingham had started ferociously and were now playing with discipline and purpose, winning good ball which crucially they were managing to use in their line to get to the wings. Farnham’s forwards in contrast, having earned most of the hard yards in the first half were now blowing hard and were beginning to lose their discipline.
Neverthless, against the run of play Farnham broke out of their half with an arcing run from Aston Ulisse to take the ball into the E&L 22. Another kick from Dylan Milner put the ball into the far corner of the pitch and an E&L penalty gave Farnham an opportunity to Pod their way to camp out on the white line. After 3 attempts and with great body position, Dylan Milner picked the ball off the back of the ruck and popped it over the the line to score in the corner. Again the conversion was too long for the boot of Finlay Anderson and so the score remained at 10-0. Spirits were high amongst the spectators but the boys had given their all and there was still 15 minutes to play.
The E&L boys now had their gander well and truly up and with the Farnham forwards no longer firing on all cylinders, they were keen to respond. They attacked from the restart and dominated the play. Eventually and inevitably, a lineout 10m from the tryline delivered a ball which was whipped out down their line where a three man overlap delivered an easy score in the far corner. Once again this proved impossible to convert and the score was now a much less comfortable 10-5.
By now there was only 5 minutes to go before the end of the game but E&L still had more in the tank and they attacked with gusto. After some backwards and forwards play, the ball found itself in the hands of their lightning winger who had already stepped Aston before Ben Atkins put in his fourth try saving tackle of the match. A breakdown ensued which E&L won and the wing again ran a fantastic line to score just to the right of the posts.
Oh No. 10-10 with minutes to go. The E&L kicker stepped up to the tee to attempt a very kickable conversion. Slotting it through the uprights would mean winning the League, a miss would mean losing to the awesome Farnham U13s. He walked backwards, did a Farrell like step sideways and then…… sliced it past the left post. The Farnham faithful sighed with relief, the boys had given their all and they were spent.
A draw seemed like a fair result from what was a hard fought match between two top teams. Farnham’s superior points difference meant that they had retained their spot at the top of the able and were now Champions of the U13 Premier Division (Outer)!
What a match, what a team! The faithful crowd could breathe again! Home for tea and medals!
Man of the match had to be Ben Atkins whose speed and tackling ability single handedly prevented at least 4 tries. Top work everyone!
Now onto the Cup!