Battling Counts so close to ending leaders' unbeaten record
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians pushed runaway League leaders Reeds Weybridge all the way and were only narrowly edged out in last Saturday’s League encounter at Clock House.
The Counts began the match like an express train and were five points up after just two minutes when hooker Rob Fleming was driven over the Reeds line from a rolling maul.
The Walcountians pack dominated possession for much of the first half and, with Rob Fleming, prop Remy Claustres and lock Joe McMullen prominent in driving play forward, pinned the visitors in their 22 for long periods. The backs, prompted by intelligent openings by half-backs Toby Bentley and Seb Chmielinski, also relentlessly probed for openings, with centres Harry Wrightson and Charlie Hardman were a constant threat.
Walcountians further extended their lead in the 14th minute when the ball was swept out to winger Marvin Fletcher-Rogers who raced in for a try in the right-hand corner. Full-back Ross Norton’s towering conversion took the Counts’ lead up to 12 points.
Reeds narrowed Walcountians’ lead when their fly-half banged ober a penalty in the 24th minute but Walcountians were in no mood to relax and, three minutes later, crossed the Reeds line again when Remy Claustres barrelled his way over for a try from a rolling maul.
As the first half came to an end, Reeds began to pull their game together and show why they have dominated Surrey League 1 this season. Their pack became the first to have the edge, if only slightly, over the Walcountians eight but, up to the halfway mark, could not penetrate a drum tight Walcountians defence which repelled every attack. But, two minutes into the second half, they finally drew blood when their outside centre broke away to score after a miscued kick into gale-force winds left most of Walcountians caught upfield.
The visitors took advantage of the slope and wind to drive Walcountians back into their own half, but they made little headway against tough defensive tackling by the Counts. However, continued pressure finally told in the 18th minute when their left-winger went over for a converted try which brought Reeds to within one point of Walcountians.
Walcountians were far from finished and their forwards proved most effective in driving play upfield. However, the combination of a strong Reeds defence which aggressively attacked any break by the Walcountians threequarters and handling errors cost the Counts further opportunities to extend the lead and a further try and a penalty by the visitors saw them grab a narrow victory.
Next Saturday, Walcountians switch their attention to the Surrey Shield when they take on Streatham-Croydon in the second of their pool matches. Kick-off at Frant Road, Thornton Heath, is at 2pm.
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Fletcher-Rogers, Hardman, Wrightson (H), Oldfield, Bentley, Chmielinski, Evans, Fleming, Claustres, Thornton, McMullen, Wrightson (J), Housden, Henderson.
Subs:- Abou-Zeid, Bellringer, Thomas.