OWs end season on high note as they smash up Vandals
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians ended the 2018-19 League season with a flourish when they annihilated the team that had beaten them to second place in Surrey League 1.
The visitors rested several of their first-choice players to keep them fit for the forthcoming play-offs against the second-placed team in Hampshire Premier League. However, even a full-strength Vandals side would have been pushed to contain a rampant Walcountians XV who drove hard and offloaded with speed and accuracy. It was hard to single out any player but flanker Tom Housden and No8
Joe Henderson gave Vandals nightmares every time they broke with the ball in hand and their linking with half-backs Harry Wrightson and Tom McMullen provided Walcountians’ backs with the ammunition to cut loose.
The Old Boys took just two minutes to take the lead when centre Heath Bateman brushed aside attempted tackles to put fellow centre Dany Abou-Zeid in for a try.
Walcountians got into their stride after 10 minutes when, firstly, full-back Ross Norton landed a penalty and, a minute later, clever interplay between Norton and winger Dharshan Vadivelu as they broke down the left-wing put Heath Bateman in for a try.
Vandals cut Walcountians’ lead in the 16th minute when their scrum-half kicked a penalty but, two minutes later, Walcountians were over the Vandals’ line yet again when fly-half Harry Wrightson wrong-footed the Vandals defence and strode through the gap to touch down.
Vandals were still showing a lot of verve in their play and slack Walcountians defending when they allowed the Vandals fly-half to break a tackle saw him put their inside-centre in for a try in the left-hand corner in the 23rd minute. Therefore, Joe Henderson’s try in the 30th minute when he broke from the back of a set scrum close to the Vandals line was much welcome and helped settle frayed nerves in the Old Boys’ ranks.
Any concerns about Walcountians’ ability to hold onto their lead were rapidly extinguished in the second half as they put Vandals to the sword. They waited less than a minute after the second half kicked off to open the scoring. Joe Henderson exposed a massive gap in the Vandals defence as he broke down the right wing and found winger Marvin Fletcher-Rogers in support to outstrip what was left of the Vandals defence and touch down.
The tries then followed like a conveyor belt as Vandals were unable to contain a rampant Old Boys. The first came after six minutes when intelligent interplay between Joe Henderson and Marvin Fletcher-Rogers set up scrum-half Tom McMullen to run in and touch down. In the last quarter, an unstoppable Walcountians ran in four tries. Dany Abou-Zeid scored his second of the day in the 22nd minute to finish off a joint move between forwards and backs. Four minutes later, Walcountians recycled second-phase ball from a ruck and found Heath Bateman who cleverly wrong-footed the Vandals defence and strode through for his second try. The final two scores saw Harry Wrightson and Joe Henderson score their second tries of the day. Wrightson’s effort came in the 31st minute and came after he snapped up loose ball in midfield and burst through a gap in the Vandals defence to touch down. Henderson’s second try came three minutes before full-time when he made an unstoppable burst down the blindside after breaking from the back of a scrum.
Walcountians finished the 2018-19 League season in third place, just four points short of earning a place in the promotion play-offs. They must be kicking themselves for their indifferent early season form when they suffered several narrow defeats. However, the 2018-19 season is not over for the Old Boys as they have made it through to the Surrey Shield final which takes place on 6 May.
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Fletcher-Rogers, Bateman, Abou-Zeid, Vadivelu, Wrightson, McMullen, Evans, Fleming, Anderson, Thornton, Thomas, Bellringer, Housden, Henderson.
Subs:- Claustres, Le Masurier, Stylianou.