No Happy New Year for OWs as they fall to defeat
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians were brought down to earth with a bump as they lost their opening League match of 2019 to relegation-threatened Old Amplefordians.
The Counts had beaten Amplefordians earlier in the season and were expected to prevail in Saturday’s encounter. But the visitors belied their lowly position in Surrey League 1 by putting Walcountians on the back foot from the start. A combination of strong forward support play, adventurous running by the backs and solid defensive tackling forced Walcountians to defend their tryline in the opening 20 minutes, and were helped by a less than stellar performance by the Counts with hooker Rob Fleming proving the only player to make much ground in the forward drives and erratic ball distribution and less than effective tackling allowing Amplefordians to make ground.
Amplefordians took the lead with a converted try in the 14th minute when their tight-head prop Jamie Reed drove over for a try from a ruck close to the Counts’ tryline.
Walcountians showed more urgency in the second quarter and, with props Anthony Abou-Zeid and Ben Anderson scrummaging well, began to gain the upper hand in possession. A penalty from full-back Ross Norton in the 16th minute got them off the mark and, in the 34th minute, they took the lead. Scrum-half Seb Chmielinski was brought down close to the tryline after making a sniping break and, from the ruck set up, the ball was released to the Walcountians backs for centre Charlie Hardman to run in a try.
However, the second half saw Amplefordians having a double advantage of the slope and wind in their favour and they took full advantage of it. Although Walcountians were 14-7 up by the seventh minute of the second half, thanks to two well-struck penalties from Ross Norton, the visitors one again started to turn the screw on the Counts, and looked more like a side challenging for promotion than one fighting to avoid the drop. In the 12th minute, they narrowed Walcountians’ lead with a second try from Jamie Reed who shrugged off three attempted tackles and, ten minutes later, regained the lead when inside-centre Geordie Tulloch finished off a counter-attack down the Counts’ right flank.
Walcountians seldom looked like they could regain the initiative and a fourth try five minutes from full-time sealed victory for the visitors.
The next League fixture for Walcountians takes place on 26 January when they make the short trip across the Chipstead Valley to play local rivals Chipstead. Kick-off at The Meads is at 2pm.
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Abou-Zeid (D), Hardman, Wrightson (H), Stylianou, Bentley, Chmielinski, Abou-Zeid (A), Fleming, Anderson, Thornton, Thomas, Wrightson (J), Adams, Henderson.
Subs:- Bateman, Harris, Housden.