Counts fight back to overturn deficit and record first win of 2019
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians brought a losing run to an end by overturning a half-time deficit to defeat Old Freemen’s at Ashtead Park last Saturday.
The Counts drew first blood after 13 minutes when skipper Will Thornton charged down a clearance kick to bring about a turnover, from which the ball was swept out to centre Charlie Hardman who found space and put winger Jacob Oldfield in for a try which full-back Ross Norton converted.
For the rest of the first half, Walcountians had their work cut out against a lively Freemen’s XV who were massively improved over the side which capitulated heavily in the previous fixture back in October. The Freemen’s pack drove forward with aggression and provided a solid platform for a speedy set of backs, and it was only solid defensive tackling by Walcountians which kept the score down. However, the Counts were unable to stop Freemen’s from scoring a brace of tries in the 25th and 30th minutes which gave the home side a seven-point half-time lead.
Walcountians took advantage of the slope in their favour to turn the tables on Freemen’s in the second half. The Walcountians pack took control in all phases, with props Anthony Abou-Zeid and Remy Claustres outscrummaging their counterparts, Will Thornton and Joe Henderson dominating the lineouts and Claustres and Henderson, along with No8 Jonny Evans, driving Freemen’s backwards with a series of thumping drives. However, in the first 20 minutes of the second half, Walcountians were frustrated as a series of penalty awards against them undid their efforts to get back into the game.
The Counts nevertheless closed the gap on Freemen’s as Ross Norton banged over two penalties in the 8th and 26th minutes. Four minutes from full-time, they finally got heir reward for their efforts when Jonny Evans set up a ruck close to the Freemen’s line, from which the ball was swung out to the threequarters and Ross Norton joined the line to put replacement winger Dharshan Vadivelu clear to run in and touch down.
Walcountians nearly added a third try in the final minute of the match when scrum-half Seb Chmielinski wriggled his way over the line and touched down, only for the try to be disallowed because of a previous illegal move.
The Counts now stand sixth in Surrey League 1 and, while apparently safe from relegation, are now some way off from the promotion places. Their next match is on 2 March when they take on Law Society at Clock House (kick-off 2:30pm).
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Fletcher-Rogers, Hardman, Abou-Zeid (D), Oldfield, Wrightson, Chmielinski, Abou-Zeid (A), Fleming, Claustres, Thornton, Thomas, Henderson, Adams, Evans.
Subs:- Bellringer, Le Masurier, Vadivelu.