Counts fail to smash up Vandals in League opener
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians’ Surrey League 1 campaign got off to an anti-climatic start when they were narrowly edged out by Weybridge Vandals.
The Counts found Vandals, relegated from London 3 South West last season, to be very difficult opponents. Their well-drilled pack was highly effective in retaining and using possession while their defensive tackling and rucking contained Walcountians’ forward drives, while their threequarters proved an inpenetratable barrier to their Walcountians counterparts. Despite taking the lead in the first minute with a penalty from full-back Ross Norton, Walcountians spend much of the first half defending their line and, in the seventh minute, Vandals left-winger Phair finished off a threequarter move to put them in front with a converted try.
Walcountians vigorously contested possession and there were strong performances from hooker Anthony Abou-Zeid who was the most effective ball carrier and flanker Tom Housden, whose speed onto the ball secured several turnovers. But the Walcountians backs were not able to make any headway against a rock-solid Vandals defence and only centre Harry Wrightson threatened to make a breakthrough. A second penalty from Ross Norton in the 16th minute narrowed Vandals’ lead to one point and this remained the position at the break.
Walcountians’ propensity to concede penalties proved costly as Vandals outside-centre Bramham-Law took advantage of an opportunity to extend the lead in the opening minute of the second half.
Walcountians began to show more penetration in the second half, but they were still unable to breach the Vandals’ line and, 21 minutes into the half, Vandals put the match out of Walcountians’ reach when a forward drive sucked in several Walcountians’ defenders and gave the Vandals backs space to put outside-centre Bramham-Law in for a try.
Walcountians were the more aggressive side in the closing minutes but they were still unable to breach the Vandals line and had to rely on the boot of Ross Norton to add three more points from a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time.
The Counts are on the road again next Saturday when they take on Old Amplefordians. Kick-off at Dornan Fields, Motspur Park is at 3pm.
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Fletcher-Rogers, Wrightson, Abou-Zeid (D), Vadivelu, Bentley, Chmielinski, Evans, Abou-Zeid (A), Claustres, Thornton, McMullen (J), Housden, Fleming, Henderson.
Subs:- Adams, Bellringer, McMullen (T).