Injury-hit Counts' courage not enough to stop Reeds hurricane
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians’ hopes of promotion effectively disappeared last Saturday when they were well beaten by League leaders Reeds Weybridge.
The Counts entered the match against opponents who had won every match with a sizeable injury list, with prop Anthony Abou-Zeid, locks Dom Bell and Joe McMullen, flanker Jack Wrightson, centre Charlie Hardman and winger Jacob Oldfield all out of action. They were joined by fly-half Harry Wrightson who had to cry off with a hamstring problem at late notice. Despite this handicap, it was Walcountians who dominated play in the opening 20 minutes as the pack, with prop Remy Claustres, lock Pete Thomas and flanker Tom Housden outstanding, driving Reeds back towards their own line and scrum-half Seb Chmielinski relentlessly probing for openings. Strong Walcountians tackling and counter-rucking closed down Reeds every time they tried to break out of their own half. There was no surprise when Remy Claustres put the Counts into the lead in the 17th minute as he drove over the line from a ruck.
However, as the first half drew to a close, Walcountians got a taste of how dangerous Reeds were with the ball in their hand. Tries by prop Josh Brown and centre Tom McLean in the 25th and 27th minutes quickly opened up a lead for the home side, to which fly-half Jon Rogers added a penalty. A third Reeds try came four minutes from the break when winger Joe Moriarty, son of former Walcountian legend Steve Moriarty who was in the crowd, scored a spectacular try after breaking from 50 metres out following a turnover.
Reeds started the second half in the same manner as they ended the first when full-back Chris Stegmann burst down the left wing to touch down.
Walcountians to their credit refused to give up, even after they lost prop Jonny Evans with a shoulder injury and flanker Luke Adams with concussion. Ten minutes into the second half, got back into the game when replacement No8 Callum Rees drove forward after the Counts won a lineout five metres from the Reeds line and found Remy Claustres in support to barge aside half no less than six Reeds defenders and force his way over the line for his second try of the day.
The Counts continued to show commitment and made Reeds work hard. But there was little they could do to contain the speed and precision of the home side’s counter-attacks which yielded four more tries, with wingers Dan Veale and Joe Moriarty, centre Tom McLean and full-back Chris Stegmann all scoring after rapid counter-attacks from their own half left Walcountians stranded.
The Counts however had the last say in the match in the final minute when replacement centre Heath Bateman broke inside and shook off three attempted tackles as he powered his way over for the visitors’ third try of the day.
Walcountians are now eight points behind second-placed Weybridge Vandals and realistically stand no chance of making the promotion play-offs this season. Next Saturday, they play their final League match of the season when they take on Weybridge Vandals at Clock House, kicking off at 3pm. The match will be preceded by a lunch for former players, organised by their President, Malcolm Stone.
Old Walcountians:- Vadivelu, Fletcher-Rogers, Abou-Zeid, McMullen, Stylianou, Norton, Chmielinski, Evans, Selvarajah, Claustres, Thornton, Thomas, Housden, Adams, Henderson.
Subs:- Bateman, George, Rees.