An archive of match reports from the 2009 section of the 2008/09 season.
Saturday April 4th 2009
Old Cranleighans 19 Cranleigh 13
The sun set with a contented glow on Old Cranleighan’s Surrey League Two season, a committed victory over immediate and traditional rivals Cranleigh exactly what a stuttering campaign demanded. Three tries put one in the shade, and though the scoreline grew increasingly anxious in the second period, a fine individual score from OC man of the match Dom Hammond saw the hosts home, and, as the beers began to flow, the liquid opposite of dry. Roared on by a well-fortified group of Golden Oldies, this was the sort of day an Old Boys club thrives on, victory the icing on an afternoon of good food, wine and will.
Cranleighans welcomed back an injection of student talent, Simon Steer ever a willing ball chaser on the floor, and Jumbo Jupp adding pace and verve at the back. OC’s lineout was an important source, the visitors unable to evade the telescopic limbs of Mark Colgate and Al Lawson dependable as ever. Skipper Graeme Brown relished the battle until forced off shortly after the break, and the OC back-division had ample chance to use the width of the park, sparked by Hammond’s deceptive two-handed ball carry jinking.
Cranleigh won the reverse fixture before Christmas, and lay just ahead of Cranleighans in mid-table prior to kick-off, yet this was never going to be a dead rubber. A robust encounter saw the visitors start to establish a hold midway through the first half. All this changed however, as a Cranleigh attack down the left came unstuck, new Daddy Ed Reed celebrating the arrival of watching baby Penelope by poaching the ball and steaming away and clear down the right wing. The conversion hammered back off the crossbar, but this potentially damaging miss was nullified soon afterwards as a potent attack eventually found Jupp flying up the left flank for a terrific team score, this time Hammond striking an emphatic conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Cranleigh came back strongly, two penalties halving the lead but mid way through the second period OCs started to find a rhythm and camped down in the visitors half. Hammond had shown great touch all day, and would simply not be denied, his irresistible break leaving defenders sprawling for a fine individual try, matched by a sweetly struck conversion. 19-6 was a strong lead, but Cranleigh refused to buckle. When a speculative kick left replacement OC wing Fawcett looking more than a little clumsy as the ball bounced wickedly, Cranleigh right wing Josh Benson was gifted a try under the sticks, the conversion bringing the scoreline dramatically back to life. OCs were not to be denied on home soil however, Anayi bouncing off the effects of flu and several defenders, and Colgate, a former Cranleigh player in his pre-grey youth, leading the strong arm way home. A great win(e) to cheer the faithful, and with indications that many of the returning youngsters will be available next year, a positive end to a mixed campaign.
Skipper Brownie deserved the acclaim at the whistle (if not the Pernod top in his pint!), his passion and commitment to OCRFC evident in all he has done over the last two seasons. We will all return in a few months no doubt (see you then Rolesy), and who knows, with strength returning to the squad, a tilt at the title is an ambitious but credible target. Well done all; in my dream that night I made that seventy metre run with ease…
High Jinks: Dom Hammond
High Age: Fawcett
Saturday 14th March 2009
When the Groin gets Tough
Old Walcountians 34 Old Cranleighans 10
Old Cranleighan’s mid-table placing was again confirmed, this result a matter of time though OCs can claim to have matched their promotion chasing rivals in many facets of the game. OCs pack fronted up well, the lineout secure, yet a limited cutting edge and a surfeit of belief perhaps highlight the failings of both this game and the season. Once again the OC eight was able to provide decent set piece ball, but around the park the loose was less assured, allowing Walcountians time to execute some well drilled outside calls.
Cranleighans fielded yet another unfamiliar combination, the lack of ability to select a consistent side this year a marked contrast to the success of the previous season. Skipper for the day Andy Geoghegan proved an able stand-in stand-off, but a couple of forthright Ed Reed bursts apart, OCs potential to score points was compromised. OCs effort was further hampered as Paul Strang pulled up after a spectacular one-touch contribution, his groin still in chill-out on an Auckland beach mode. Late arrival Sam Jenner was barely into his shirt before replacing the flightless Kiwi in the centre.
For twenty-five minutes OCs matched their high-flying rivals, Walcountians’ scrum-half in erratic Mauro mode, and a sin bin for the hosts putting them under further pressure. But all the good work was undone in a three-try burst; an excellent second score sandwiched between two poor defensive gifts. First the ball squirted from a set piece and with no OC in evidence OWs centre was put clean through. The second was a vintage score, the left wing finally worked clear after good approach work down the right sucked in the Cranleighan cover. A third try took the home side to a comfort margin, the right wing allowed in at the corner. 15-0 at the interval was hard on the OC pack, Blake Webster leading the way, though his Nemo fin flap on the deck following a thunderous collision was a priceless contribution!
Cranleighans felt they were in the game at the break, and an early score was exactly what the team talk demanded, Jonny Arthur spirited away down the right wing by some excellent handling from Tom Rive on a welcome hamstring-testing comeback and the hard grafting Mark Colgate. Nic Robinson’s conversion attempt rebounded off an upright, but with the wind, slope and sun in their favour OCs had every incentive. Arthur’s hamstring limped off replaced by Fawcett on the right wing, but of more pressing concern was the rising penalty count. Finally the referee saw yellow, Ben Bridges less than subtle block of a quick tapped penalty one of the season’s more straightforward sin-binnings. With OCs down to fourteen, Walcountians exploited the blind side imbalance, the number–eight surging through. OCs responded again however, this time the pack leading the way for Blake Webster to crown a fine game with an admittedly contentious score in the left corner. A ten-point game with twenty minutes to play, yet OCs fell away in the final quarter, a missed tackle, and a sixth try under the posts at the death evidence of the home team’s ultimate superiority.
Walcountians celebrated their guaranteed promotion, but for Cranleighans this was a game that was allowed to slip away. Marooned in mid-table the OC season can be viewed as comfortable consolidation after last year’s champions’ effort. Yet OCs should look to push beyond this comfort blanket, too reliant on select individuals whose absence is all too acutely felt. With Amplefordians lost to Surrey Division 2 there remains but one league fixture, a home tie against our old friends Cranleigh. With a Golden Oldies lunch that April 4th, the hope must be that with OCs selecting from strength, this campaign can provide that elusive high point….
Shining Light: Blake Webster
Shiner: Reedie faces the Missus, a black eye perfect timing for the new baby photos!
Saturday 7th March 2009
Carry On Emanuel
Old Cranleighans 7 Old Emanuel 43
Old Cranleighans’ erratic progress through the Surrey League Two fixture list was thrust firmly into reverse gear by a well drilled Old Emanuel side whose pace and ambition out wide cut the hosts’ defence apart. OCs were shorn of several first team regulars and obliged to cobble together a makeshift pack, but will acknowledge that this opponent was in a different class on the day. From a calamitous start, OCs did spend a sustained period in the OE half, but failure to capitalise here perhaps symbolised OCs lack of belief, and allowed the visitors to ease slowly through the gears.
Points adrift by the interval Cranleighans fell away badly in the closing chapter of the first period, several scores coming in the final twelve minutes, and from there, despite a spirited second-half, the result was a formality. The game struggled as a spectacle: the official too eager to penalise for a flow to result; a succession of injuries, in particular to OC fly-half James Bradbury prolonging the match by several whistle-heavy minutes. OCs were put under pressure from the kick-off, the scramble to clear charged down as Emanuel celebrated the best possible start under the OC posts. OCs were clearly shaken, a lack of confidence, apparent from a lack-lustre warm-up, further undermined. Yet the response was swift; fifteen minutes in enemy territory the high point of a limited performance. A lack of tangible reward however saw the visitors start to dominate, and from the mid-point of the half the traffic took on a decidedly one-way slant.
All sound and fury, the Emanuel pack in fact signified little, well matched in the tight by the OC eight, though the line-out proved something of a wind-swept disaster for the hosts. Out wide however OCs, fearing the pace of two excellent wings, were hurt in midfield. OE’s back division revelled in the possession, calm in execution and deadly on the counter as when breaking the OC siege for a length-of-pitch second score. A further score from a messy lineout and a well earned try for the OE centre concluded a troubled half for OCs, the lack of a decent goal kicker hardly an anxiety for a now rampant Emanuel side. Further tries in the second half were shared with the visitors’ pack, but again it was the backs that created the platform. OCs scrambled hard to breach the holes, a fine try saving tackle from second-row/wing (!) Ed Reed a notable effort, but despite the efforts of Dom Hammond to conjure a response, and a bullish turn from stand-in skipper Baz Anayi, the final score was a fair reflection on a bad day for the Thames Ditton outfit.
At the death Dennis Kwist grabbed a battering consolation score which Hammond converted, his kick signalling an end to a performance OCs will wish to eradicate when they visit Old Walcountians this coming Saturday. For Cranleighans hooker Ben Bridges had a busy debut round the park, Surinda surrendered to the bug at half time, allowing veteran Will Yule to return and remarkably give away only one penalty during his time on the pitch, and the second half resistance at least proved OCs character. One to forget however, the need to focus on this weekend and the final two league fixtures ahead now the priority.
Kazi of Kalibur: Baz Anayi
Oooh Matron! Bradders carted off injured (again)
Saturday 21st February 2009
Law Society 23 Old Cranleighans 31
Old Cranleighans emerged from this entertaining encounter with great credit; a lighter pack displaying character and discipline to post five tries to three on a glorious spring afternoon. With an inexperienced back-row absorbing countless forward drives from a heavyweight legal team and the front-row bruised but unbowed, two braces and a poacher’s effort from second-row Mark Colgate saw OCs home and… following a senior moment from Tosh Meyer…dry. The OCRFC President very generously got the beers in at the final whistle, regrettably half a mile away in the wrong pub!
The game took place a decent walk from the changing store-room (!), and was delayed by the late arrival of the official. Arriving theatrically in a squeal of tyres, the referee did at least spare both sides the spectre of TP taking charge of the game, and from the off the disparity in pack size was apparent. Law Society had but one brief however, a churning prosecution that the OC defence repeatedly pulled apart. On the break, the Law Soc back division,
understandably dislocated from the game plan, dithered fatally under a speculative high ball, for Colgate to claim experienced anticipation led the ball to bounce kindly for him to lope in under the posts, James Bradbury adding the simplest of extras.
Two Law Soc penalties were limited reward for a sustained period of pressure, Cranleighans time and again able to smuggle the ball away, before holding out on their own line, the ball not grounded according to the official, much to the home side’s frustration. On the break, the home full-back was again hesitant under a high ball, this time centre Andy Geoghegan scurrying through to the posts. OC kicking boots headed to the corner flag at this point however, the need for five-pointers apparent, but with Sean Benson close to scoring in the last play of the half, a 12-6 lead at the interval represented a good return against a breeze and troublesome low sun. It was the cross-examination of thirty-six points narrowly shaded by the visitors in the second period when OCs character truly caught the jury’s attention though.
Three tries apiece, OCs defending with great urgency and a pair of scintillating touchdowns from debutant Paul Arthur are the bare bones of this particular case. Law Soc came hard, rumbling round the fringes with some purpose, but were matched by some sharp counter-attack, and an heroic performance from an outgunned pack. With the tie in the balance, Paul Arthur, a late and inexperienced replacement at flanker, seized on to a faltering attack with an electric burst leaving the wing and full-back trailing in his wake. Geoghegan slipped through for his second, taking advantage of an overlap to the right, his reluctance to touch down until right under the sticks revealing the anxiety over OC’s kicking skills. Between times, the home side finally heaved their collective evidence over in the right corner, and when they handed off through the centre for a second score the game looked open once again.
With Bradbury forced off OCs reshuffled, Geoghegan slotting in at outside-half. It was his steepling kick that allowed centre James Duncan to cap a forceful and determined performance, harassing the Law Soc defence to such an extent that Arthur was once more able to show a clean pair of heels to a despairing defence. Two conversions sealed the win, a last minute quick-tap consolation from the home scrum-half the last score in an entertaining trial. The visitors deserved the verdict, this spirited display further lit up by contributions from Matt Kates, buccaneering from full-back, and Surinda, courageous at the base of a retreating scrum. Cranleighans countered size with commitment, none more so than Mark Colgate who made countless tackles on a fine comeback. The startled look on the face of the Law Society prop and captain as he was sent flat on his wig by a trademark Anayi charge was however the undoubted highlight of this engaging courtroom drama.
Legal Eagle: Mark Colgate
Barely Legal: Dennis Kwist’s threadbare jockstrap
Saturday 14th February 2009
Heart to Heart
Old Cranleighans 29 Old Rutlishians 6
A smile returned to Old Cranleighan faces as victory over struggling Old Rutlishians saw the Thames Ditton outfit all but guarantee mid-table security in Surrey League Two. After the debacle away to London Media a win was paramount, and the final quarter duly served up the requisite morale boost, but not before the home side experienced an awkward first hour. OCs were apparently in control, but over anxiety conspired to force passes and see too many balls go to floor. On a Valentine’s Day redolent with the first scented romance of spring, a lady referee bought joy to the heart of OC skipper Graeme Brown (read on skips it gets even better…). Bearing a gift-wrapped present of a try and whispering sweet nothings into our hero’s ear over a shared post match cocktail, the official commanded the captain’s undivided attention, her fond farewell embrace perchance bringing him almost as much joy as the league points.
From the off Cranleighans were in the ascendancy, eager to spread the ball, but guilty of a lack of patience. Eventually OCs contrived a yawning chasm for the captain, who, faced with a twenty metre sprint, found himself immersed in agoraphobic waves, the try-line contracting almost as rapidly as his heart and lungs, enabling the scrambling OR defence to hold him up over the line. Ruts repeated the try-line heroics soon after, but eventually Al Lawson extended a telescopic arm to touch down after OC three-quarters looked to have wasted another chance, and it seemed the hosts would now pull away. To their credit however ORs rallied, rolling forward through a sizeable pack, and forcing OCs into some last-ditch defence with no lack of pace on the wide outside. Matt Chandler’s penalty was just reward as the match fell into a narrow mess, OCs reaching the break more than aware they were in a game, a point, or three, made yet more apparent as Chandler added a second penalty to nudge the visitors ahead 6-5 shortly after the restart.
At the final whistle Cranleighans had turned the tide, four unanswered tries lending the scoreline a respectable slant, testament to a considerable improvement in the second period. James Bradbury had a strong game at outside-half, and with Andy Houston increasingly calling the shots OCs began an inexorable drive to victory. With Roles and Anayi acting as security for captain Brown, who was on the end of a sustained thumping from an opposing prop, the home tackling moved up in intensity, though quite where Baz’s demonic giggle came from as he enveloped the opposing fly half is any psychologists guess.
First our romantic lead(er) was presented with a bouquet of red roses, the official heroine of the piece perhaps unable to detect either her whistle or a spectacular knock-on, as the ball fell to the prone skipper who had only to roll on top of it to score. Houston and Roles sent Ed Reed away down the right wing for the third, before Lawson, loitering optimistically, received his own box of chocolates, with a second soft-centred try. Finally Fawcett, having flapped badly at an earlier opportunity, was released down the right for a flamboyant freeze-frame before the final credits rolled. Two conversions from Hammond completed the scoring, and if Cranleighans made hard work of the victory, the abiding sentiment was of a team playing with great heart, hugely supportive of each other, reflected in the genuine thanks to Chris Lambert for his sterling, if medically unsound effort at prop.
OCs face the Law Society away next weekend, and will hope for a continuation of this second half. On this day of amour, the final chapter must naturellment belong to a Frenchman. Matthieu a debonair replacement on the left wing for the final ten minutes touched the ball not once, but was able to reflect that at least this week he was not confined to a back brace having been repeatedly dumped on his head. SWALK.
Pacemaker: Chris Lambert
Open Heart: Brownie
Saturday 31st January 2009
London Media 56 Old Cranleighans 28
Ouch! Ten minutes into this extraordinary fixture Old Cranleighans found themselves twenty-eight points down, the game effectively over without the visitors having laid a hand on either ball or opponent. Stuck in traffic prior to arrival, forced to reconstruct the side as eleventh-hour withdrawals scuppered the prospect of a coherent strategy, and caught utterly cold from the start, OCs were honestly appalling in the first half. To come out and claim a three try to one margin in the second period showed considerable strength of character, but this is one defeat that should hurt all that took part.
On a tiny pitch and with a biting wind at their backs, OCs found the kick-off returned by a pacy back-division whose every attempted offload found gaping channels to exploit. Despite Dom Hammond’s best efforts to reverse the one-way traffic, the fly-half spent much of the opening quarter restarting the game, and it was not until the game was gone that the OC pack finally found their way into the match. Forty-nine points were shipped in an embarrassing capitulation, with tempers fraying (sorry!) and only Baz Anayi’s poacher’s knack breaking the Cranleighan drought. Tackling was weak, commitment was absent, Brownie was penning a resignation letter….
But let us dwell on the positive. Dom Hammond had a great game, galvanising OC’s renaissance, and Baz Anayi was a ball of controlled frustration; even the chip and chase worked! With this pair, and a marked improvement from the pack in the second half, the visitors at last began to find form. Harrying his players, and sniping around the base, skipper Graeme Brown deserves huge credit, his two tries some reward for a bloody-minded refusal to lie down, and for the annoyance of a Friday evening spent on the phone as the side fell apart. Murphy added a fourth OC try, all converted by Hammond, but in response to the early onslaught this was never going to be enough. Eight tries for the hosts found them on a good day with their best availability of the season so far, but Cranleighans must now regroup swiftly with two mid-lower table battles to focus the mind.
For London Media the scorers must alas remain anonymous in their glory, OCs retreating swiftly to the nearest pub at the final whistle, while the hosts no doubt enjoyed a thoroughly well-merited spread and beers away in their own ‘club-house’. Suitably chastened, OCs could at least raise a glass to deserved victors, and if this was certainly a day to remember for all the wrong reasons, at least the next few weeks bring opportunity for redemption. Old Rutlishians visit Thames Ditton on February 14th, and on that auspicious day, the skipper would no doubt sooner contemplate a Valentine’s Day card for each of his troops, than the angry P45 going through his mind as OCs shipped yet another early score.
A difficult week then, and not just due to snow and ice, so… to lend a positive slant, availability appears better next time out and England face an Italian side robbed of three first-choice scrum-halves on Saturday. Even OCs would find themselves stretched by this selection dilemma. Watch the media backlash as Bergamasco has a stormer at nine! Enjoy the weekend, it’s got to be better than last…
Captain’s Innings: Brownie
Best Snowman: Olivia Fawcett (aged 4)
Saturday 24th January 2009
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Old Cranleighans 0 Teddington 18
Old Cranleighans brave attempt to unseat the runaway league leaders Teddington ultimately went unrewarded, but not before the hosts gave their unbeaten visitors a terrific scare. Pointless at the interval, the game hinged on a curious sin-bin decision from a sensitive official whose presence lay heavy on proceedings. Teddington deserved the spoils, greater cohesion and fitness winning through at the business end of the game, but OCs should take heart from a committed and at times threatening display.
OCs welcomed back player-coach Andy Houston to fly-half at the eleventh hour, his influence apparent as the Teddinton backline was breached throughout. The visitors tackling was sound at the death however, OCs never quite able to fully expose a mean defence which has hitherto conceded only fifty points all year. With the referee eager to penalise infringements on the deck in an instant, and certainly in no frame of mind to discuss his interpretation, both teams frequently retired the requisite ten metres with a collectively confused expression. Even-handed certainly, and no doubt technically proficient, the abiding sentiment over a shared pint afterwards was of a display lacking in sympathy, the joy killed.
Teddington in particular, recognising an unexpectedly potent threat from their hosts grew twitchy, kicker Paul Manley’s misfiring radar adding to their frustration. Three kickable penalties were pushed wide as OCs scrambling defence held out, with flanker Mike Berry in outstanding form. As the half closed, OCs had genuine reason for optimism, and were still well in the frame on the hour until the pivotal yellow card was held aloft. With wing Harry Jupp forced to contemplate the decision from the sideline, Teddington garnered eight unanswered points during this period of advantage.
First Manley finally found his range, before OCs waited fatally on an advantage called by the referee, pumping the ball upfield. The ball bounced kindly for the Teddington full-back and he returned it with interest as the OC defence sat guilty of awaiting the anticipated whistle. In a trice centre John Dixon was over and the tide had turned irrevocably against the home side. OCs strove to reach parity, a pulled penalty shot unjust return for a stirring effort. Yet with the seconds ticking away, it was the visitors who made light of a sin-binned player of their own, the game made safe with a second try this time converted, wing Andrew Macreagh gliding through a tiring defence. For good measure Manley made certain with a second penalty, but the league leaders will know they were made to work hard for this victory, the scoreline perhaps flattering them just a little.
For Cranleighans, Dom Hammond was as ever the likeliest cutting edge. Up front Ed Reed was a tireless stand-in, supporting Roles, Anayi and Murphy around the park and the pack never took a backward step, more than a match in the set piece, if a little exposed at the lineout. With purportedly kinder fixtures to come in the immediate future OCs should take heart even in defeat, but must find a means of turning attack into points on a regular basis if they are to match the top-placed sides consistency.
Golden Ticket: Mike Berry
Oompa Loompa/Candy Man: Sir!
Saturday 17th January 2009
OCs blown off course
Old Haileyburians 25 Old Cranleighans 10
Two tries in the final quarter gave hosts Old Haileyburians their first victory over visiting Old Cranleighans in some five encounters, and they deserved the spoils in this entertaining fixture, rearranged after the frosts took hold last week. OCs will rue their inability to harness the stiff breeze in the opening period, the home side no doubt thrilled to turn round two points to the good with the wind now at their backs. OCs were under-strength, fielding a largely unfamiliar line up, but will appreciate that fitness levels and a lack of cohesion were the true catalysts for this defeat.
OCs began brightly, a misguided clearance returned to the right corner, where an attacking lineout saw prop Dennis Kwist reach a remarkable try tally for this year (one). Dom Hammond slammed over the extras and Cranleighans looked set for early control. OH were intent on shaking off this particular Indian sign however, and began to attack with some aplomb, offloading consistently well in the tackle. Stewart Melbury finished off a fine handling sequence to the left corner, though his grounding of the ball may have gone to a higher official in another rugby dimension. OCs hit back immediately however, Nick Cunningham strong in the centre all day, realising nothing else was on and stroking over a smart drop goal.
OH came again, particularly effective through the midfield, and when fly-half Duncan Donaldson chanced an outrageous dummy a gaping hole appeared for him to make his conversion a formality. 12-10 at the break and all Cranleighan’s early good work looked wasted. Pinned back by the wind and obliged to make headway with the ball in hand, Hammond stood out as OCs sought to turn the game around. OH stood resolute in defence however, and time and again OCs efforts were drilled back down their throats on the gathering elements. Jumbo Jupp moved up to scrum-half and proved a probing irritant to the OH back row (and the official’s patience!) but OCs were seldom able to reach the danger zone before ball was again put to clearing boot.
As the game reached a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion OHs found another gear, breaking away down the left for James to touch down unchallenged. OCs were harshly punished by further concessions, prop Stewart grabbing a fourth score and Donaldson easing over a coat of penalty icing to lend a marginally favourable light on the final scoreline. No doubt OH were worthy victors in this battle of the two promoted sides from last year however, and OCs will need to work hard to recapture some of the mid-season lustre of the pre-Christmas period. Next up are runaway league leaders Teddington at Thames Ditton, a challenge OCs must meet head on to establish mid-table security.
On a positive note, some pleasing debuts and no lack of effort made this a competitive match up, OCs can move on from this defeat in the confident knowledge they have strength returning, and reserves to call upon. Onwards OCs…
Stand out: Dom Hammond
Stand Up: Introductory Speech from the Referee!