Counts grind their way to hard-earned victory
By Rob Murphy
Old Walcountians hauled their way clear from the relegation zone with a hard-fought victory over Guildfordians at Clock House last Saturday.
The Counts were encouraged by the return of five key players who had been long-term absentees in the shape of full-back Ross Norton, centres Eddy Ryan and Steve Bayles and bench replacements James Tutton and Gerry Connor. However, they were put under considerable pressure in the first half by a powerful Guildfordians pack who got the upper hand in the set scrums and the mauls. However, Walcountians aggressively attacked the gain line in the loose, with lock Dom Bell, flanker Joe Henderson and No 8 Jonny Evans leading the way while, behind the scrum, fly-half Tom Harrison put in a faultless kicking display to gain ground for the Counts. The other lock, Will Thornton, also made a significant contribution by winning several opposition lineout throws.
Walcountians made best use of their opportunities and took the lead after 13 minutes when scrum-half Callum Stone caught the Guildfordians defence asleep at a tap penalty move and raced over to touch down before they could react. Ross Norton’s towering conversion put Walcountians seven points up.
Guildfordians reduced the arrears with a penalty in the 27th minute of the first half but were unsuccessful with two further attempts which could have given them the lead.
Walcountians’ determination to win the match grew as the second half progressed and both forwards and backs tackled relentlessly and the pack drove forward at every opportunity. Unfortunately, this was done at a cost, with the Counts losing props Andy Scales and Luke Raynor and centre Eddy Ryan to injury.
Walcountians had the final word in a dour match in the 31st minute of the second half when Joe Henderson scored a try from a quick tap penalty.
This win has moved Walcountians up to seventh place but they are only narrowly in front of Guildfordians and Cranleigh in the battle to avoid relegation. They next play on 21 February when they take on Economicals. Kick-off at Windsor Avenue, New Malden is at 2:30pm.
Old Walcountians:- Norton, Fletcher-Rogers, Ryan, Bayles, Vadivelu, Harrison, Stone, Raynor, Houghton, Cowlin, Bell, Thornton, Brown, Henderson, Evans.
Subs (all used):- Connor, Scales, Tutton.