Rampant Counts closing in on play-off place after destruction of bottom side
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians moved closer to the promotion play-offs after a 14-try annihilation of bottom club Old Wimbledonians last Saturday.
The Counts were too strong, too fast and too well-drilled for a brave but outclassed Wimbledonians XV. Aggressive counter-rucking and powerful forward drives by the pack, with props Jonny Evans and Remy Claustres, hooker Rob Fleming and lock Will Thornton outstanding, ensured that Walcountians had the lion’s share of play, while explosive breaks by No8 Joe Henderson and relentless prompting by scrum-half Seb Chmielinski repeatedly punched holes in the visitors’ defence.
After nine minutes, the Counts were in front after speedy winger Marvin Fletcher-Rogers beat off two would-be tacklers to round the Dons’ defence and touch down for a try which centre Ross Norton converted.
The tries continued to flow for the Counts. Fly-half Harry Wrightson scored his first of two after 15 minutes when he wrong-footed Wimbledonians and Joe Henderson got on the scoresheet after 21 minutes when he touched down after Walcountians forwards drove Wimbledonians back over their own line at a set scrum.
The Counts’ second-phase play was excellent and it was from a recycled ruck set up by flanker Jack Wrightson that the ball was passed to burly prop Remy Claustres who punched his way through the Dons’ defence to set up Seb Chmielinski for a try in the 24th minute.
A piece of sheer enterprise brought about Walcountians fifth try in the 36th minute. Marvin Fletcher-Rogers got to a box kick from Seb Chmielinski first and offloaded to supporting prop Jonny Evans who blitzed his way down the field to touch down.
Walcountians added two more tries before the break. The first fell to Marvin Fletcher-Rogers who ran onto a pass from Ross Norton and scorched his way past the stunned Dons defenders after Norton had created the space by taking out two would-be tacklers. The second, in stoppage time, fell to Jonny Evans who drove over at short range from a ruck on Wimbledonians’ line.
Any concerns that Walcountians might take their foot off the gas pedal in the second half proved unfounded as they kept up the pressure. Seb Chmielinski ran in his second try of the day after seven minutes when he broke from a set scrum and left a spread-eagled Wimbledonians defence at sixes and sevens as he sprinted in to touch down.
The Dons did briefly fight back and forced the Counts to defend their line. But the Counts responded with three quick tries which took their lead up to 69 points. The first, after 17 minutes, came from a turnover, from which Seb Chmielinski put Marvin Fletcher-Rogers in the clear to score his third try of the day. The Dons had barely had the chance to draw breath when Walcountians were over again. Harry Wrightson scored his second try after breaking from midfield, finding Jonny Evans in support and retrieving the pass to go over. And, in the 24th minute, Jonny Evans joined Fletcher-Rogers on a hat-trick of tries when he retrieved loose possession and charged his way through the Dons’ defence to touch down.
The visitors, to their credit, refused to give up and their determination was rewarded in the 27th minute with a try from their scrum-half after taking an inside pass. But Walcountians’ response was to run in three more tries before full-time. The first, after 30 minutes, saw winger Nino Stylianou finish off a sweeping threequarter move from right to left. The second, four minutes later, was scored by centre Tom McMullen who received an offload from hulking replacement prop Ben Anderson. And, with the match drawing to a close, Jonny Evans broke all the rules of front row play by popping up on the left wing to finish a threequarter move and touching down for his fourth try of the day.
Walcountians are now only three points behind second-placed Weybridge Vandals and, with two matches still left, could still make the play-offs for promotion to London League 3 South West, a level they last graced 21 years ago. However, next Saturday, they face the toughest test of the season when they take on runaway leaders Reeds Weybridge who have won all their matches to-date and are effectively champions. Kick-off at Whiteley Village, Hersham is at 3pm.
Old Walcountians:- Henderson (James), Fletcher-Rogers, Norton, McMullen, Stylianou, Wrightson (H), Chmielinski, Evans, Fleming, Claustres, Thornton, Thomas, Wrightson (J), Housden, Henderson (Joe).
Subs:- Adams, Anderson, Charnock.