(Tries: J Kemp, Elvidge, Pickford, Widner. Cons: J Kemp 3)
This game was not a pretty one against the heavies of bottom-of-the table Croydon. We started brightly enough and in no time we were attacking their line. But this start soon dissolved as we conceded an unforgiveable number of penalties (four) in the opening 8 minutes to allow Croydon to work their way up our left touchline. Our defences were good – they had to be against the trundling weight of the Croydon pack – but every time we re-grouped to attack again we seemed to make another error to surrender territory and to let Croydon back into the game.
Back rowers Nick Elvidge and Alex Dumbell led the way with an enormous number of tackles apiece, while fly half Mick Carmody and inside centre Stu Garratt also had a heap of tackling to do. With limited possession coming from our retreating pack we still managed to look dangerous on the few occasions that we were able to throw the ball wide, but sadly in the second quarter we squandered two good chances to score on our right flank. Meanwhile on the other wing two profligate passes were thrown into touch, clean missing speedy Archie available with space to spare.
In the closing minutes of the half however, Ed Kemp scooped up a ball in the middle of the pitch and flung an enormous wide pass to his left (amidst cries of “forward” from all Croydonians on the touchline) for brother James to make a strong break to score. The disappointing 5-0 score-line at half time was in fact more than we deserved after our many mistakes in the half.
The half-time team talk was serious, with skipper Ed Kemp urging his team to cut out the errors and to make sure our re-start was strong. And for perhaps the only part of the game we stuck to the plan, putting great pressure on our opponents to score two good tries, from Nick Elvidge and Neil, both converted by the trusty left boot of James Kemp (actually, by this stage this was the trusty boot of substitute Rory Garratt, whose boots had been commandeered by Kempy in his thirst for points and stato glory). Rory deserves a huge thank you for coming to the game though not fully fit to cover absences, having heard only that morning that we were reduced to 16 players.
The prominent feature of the game however was a series of good performances from many WOBS players, but this was never really converted into a satisfactory team performance. James Wetenhall, drafted back into the front row due to the illness of Toby and the late arrival of Peter, delivered a Man-of-the-Match performance with his repeated forward charges, and Jonathan Burbs shared this with several ground-gaining breaks of his own….but despite getting to 19-nil we were never fully on top, having great problems in winning our own ball in set piece scrums – where Alex Dumbell and scrum half Neil had to improvise frequently to release the ball. And, to their credit, Croydon came back strongly in the final quarter to put a lot of pressure on the WOBS.
With less than five minutes left in the game and with Croydon camped on our try line, we made possibly our best (albeit ‘forced’) decision of the day, by conceding a try and 7 points. This allowed us a re-start from the middle which took the play up to the Croydon 22 metre line. A series of frantic breaks to left and right coupled with some disciplined pick-and-go’s gave the WOBS enough energy to mount a final attack which concluded with a steam-roller charge from new boy Curtis Widner who, inspired by the presence of mum on the touch-line, had a strong game throughout, breaking through to score our fourth try for the vital bonus point victory.
Relief all round for the WOBS, but really a performance like this will be punished by teams like Caterham and Economicals. We have to do better in the next weeks, if we are to secure those precious bonus point wins.
BACK TO TOP
Saturday 23rd January: Old Guildfordians 12 WOBS 15
(Tries: J Kemp, Bodkin, G Evans)
To adapt an ancient adage: this was a game of 4 Quarters. And, to put it bluntly, we can’t afford to let ourselves down in one of those quarters as we did this week, if we are to have any hope of defeating table-topping Amplefordians next Saturday.
The first Quarter started with the WOBS playing up the notorious Stoke Park hill. The massive slope may have been obvious to all players and spectators but the quagmire in our left corner was only fully appreciated by our gallant WOBS after they had slid through the ankle-deep mud a couple of times. An early handling error on our 22 saw us fall back into the danger (swamp) zone – and we soon conceded a pushover try. The rest of Q1 and all of Q2 was a masterpiece of defensive work by the WOBS and, after grinding our way up the hill with a series of pick and go manoeuvres led with intent by the Burbidge brothers, we proceeded to take the game to the Guildfordians in their half – and we were unlucky not to score on several occasions. Our confidence was high enough to spurn a kickable penalty which we failed to convert into a try – but, by dint of sheer hard work from the whole pack, we scored in the closing seconds of the half. Neil whipped the ball out to James Kemp on the blind side, where our try-machine gave the faintest of dummies to score easily in the top left corner. Five all at half time, and the WOBS’ spirits were sky high in the break.
The third Quarter was going to be easy, or so we thought, with the wind the slope and even the mud in our favour for the rest of the game. And sure enough our pick and go tactics were rewarding us with many metres of territorial gain, and soon our sub Jack Bodkin (noticeable by his sparkling white shorts – having not yet taken a dip in the quagmire) was peeling from a maul to score in the corner. Confidence grew and we maintained our strategy, gaining ground all the time. A few minutes later, with our backs strung out across the pitch to the right, left winger Guy ‘spinning’ Evans emerged in the centre to cross the line – on this occasion remembering to place the ball for a try. At 15-5, with Dom Suckling making a lot of ground in the midfield attacks, an avalanche seemed likely. However to the surprise of many, at this point the Guildfordians tightened their game to starve us of possession, inching their way up the slope by means of a series of penetrating kicks to touch and some well-drilled and aggressive rolling mauls from the back of their scrums and line-outs.
The fourth Quarter was painful for the WOBS and we lost the sympathy of the referee and conceded a series of penalties, through off-sides and not rolling away, culminating in a yellow card for our try-scoring sub, Jack taking the hit for the team’s collective misdemeanours. This period of discipline failure cost the WOBS a great deal of energy and also nearly cost us the game. When Guildfordians scored a 7-pointer with five minutes to go, the margin narrowed to 15-12 and the nerves were fraying. But for the final few minutes we managed to keep the ball safely in their half (penalty-free for once) to save the game.
For a large part of this game we were in complete control, with Mick Carmody having a fine debut game at ‘first five-eighth’ (in the parlance of his country), but our discipline collapse in the final Quarter was a serious failing for the team. We must learn to re-gather and get back on track much quicker – otherwise our promotion campaign will soon fizzle out. Tackling and handling were very good throughout the game – in very difficult conditions – but we simply cannot allow a discipline melt-down to happen again this season.
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Sat 19th December: Old Rutlishians 45 WOBS Under-21 XV 36
The WOBS were captained by James Kemp and fielded a team which included 8 players donning the blue-and-gold of the WOBS for the first time, including at fly-half the School 1st XV captain Max Rivers and his brother Ollie also making his debut.
Thirteen tries were scored in the game and at no time was either team ahead for more than a few points. But in the final few minutes, with six tries apiece and the score at 36-38, and with the WOBS just 2 points behind and pushing for victory, we conceded a seven-pointer to lose the game narrowly by 45-36. An early injury to centre Tommy Ferguson (hopefully just a bruised shoulder) blunted our clear attacking advantage somewhat, but we remained dangerous out wide with a long-range jinking try from James Kemp and one in each half from our speedster Will Harries. His second try was a stunning solo effort from our own lines, with blind-side winger Will chipping the ball over the Ruts to gather himself on our own 22, then wriggling out of a couple of tackles to race the length of the pitch to score.
The pack had a lot to do with the Ruts choosing to drive repeatedly back into our forwards, but we held them well for much of the game, with Angus Bonner, Finbar Tilford and Man-of-the-Match Miles Bateson leading the way. Newcomers Jim Salmon, Toby Pullan and Ryan Choi also put in a full shift in a tough match. Freddy Jones filled in well at scrum half – and Ben Derbyshire made the tackle of the day at fullback felling a Rutlishian twice his weight to save a certain try.
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Saturday 14th November: Old Caterhamians 7 WOBS 23
(Tries: Ferguson 2, D Suckling 1. C Killoughery 2P,1C)
This game was won by the WOBS defence. The all-round defence was superb – with the whole team making first-up tackles with an incredible success rate. Coupled with this our defensive kicking for territory – in particular by fly-half Olly Owen and full-back Christian Killoughery – in the high wind and heavy rain was exemplary, in contrast to our opponents who somehow never mastered the appalling conditions.
In teeming rain, the game started off quietly enough. An early handling error by Christian (possibly his only mistake in an otherwise faultless display) when he failed to scoop a skidding ball, allowed Old Cats their only chance of the half as they booted through. But the WOBS were saved from an early shock by a lightning sprint back 30 metres by Swanny, who slid to the ground, to form the ruck – allowing the WOBS to regain clean ball and to clear their lines. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that the WOBS won their first kickable penalty where, in contrast to our decision-making in the Amplefordians game, we opted instead for the kick at goal and Christian’s well weighted kick split the uprights with ease.
On the half hour mark, after some steady pressure by the WOBS, Adam Burbidge went on a characteristic burst to the right of a midfield melee, to pass on to Tommy Ferguson who cut back through three defenders to score to give us a well-deserved 10-0 half time lead.
The pattern of play continued into the second half, with the WOBS stopping would-be attacks from Old Cats in their tracks – with Dom Suckling particularly effective with his early tackles round the fringes, and Nick Elvidge making some important turn-overs. Ten minutes into the half, Tommy found himself and the ball to the left of a maul…..but, seeing no-one outside him on the left wing, he cut back across the field behind the scrum, then straightened and drifted through the whole Cats’ defence to score a superb second try to the right of the posts to give us a comfortable 15-0 lead. Sensibly we took another penalty for 18-0 but from the ensuing kick-off, some lazy play allowed the Old Caterhamians to string together their first passage of coherent play, and with it a minor recovery to 7-18.
This was the crucial point in the match as, with 15 minutes to go, a Caterhamians revival was a real possibility. At this point, despite the continuing rain, the WOBS played some of their most expansive handling, with a series of sequences of slick passing through the backs. One of these moves took us to the left corner-flag where, following a rapid ruck and a powerful drive by Jonathan Burbidge, Dom Suckling was felled close to the line and was strong enough to drive through the final half-metre – making effective use of the wet grass – to slide over for our decisive third try, the WOBS closing the game as worthy winners at 23-7.
This was a great team effort for the full 80 minutes. A big thank you goes to the two (rather wet) substitutes Joe Rivers and Ed Stewart who, though not used, provided valuable backup support. Newcomer Ed had a short cameo in the final minutes. Stand-in captain Jonathan Burbidge urged the team with great determination and crystal clear instructions, and was always at the fore to lead by example. Any criticism that his satisfaction with the team performance may have clouded his judgement in awarding the Man of the Match to brother Adam was wholly unjustified, as the younger Burbs had terrorised the Old Cats defenders with a series of heavy-duty charges throughout the game. More of the same next Saturday please.
Saturday 24th October: Amplefordians 18 WOBS 17
(Tries: J Burbidge, D Suckling, R Garratt. Con: R Garratt 1)
This match was always going to be a tight one, and it all started at an electric pace. In the opening seconds, the Amplefordians revealed their secret weapon in the form of their bulky, bustling number 13 William Shepard, who sliced through the WOBS backs, brushing aside any would-be tacklers who tried to go high. Eventually the man was felled – by a combination of several desperate WOBS who attached themselves to his torso. The OAs then camped on our try-line for the next 5 minutes of heavy duty defence by the WOBS. To the team’s great credit, and to the surprise of some, the WOBS held out and the game shifted to the more comfortable middle parts of the pitch.
Another surprise: despite playing up the hill the WOBS scrum was holding up effectively against their opponents – anchored by trans-Benedictine James Wetenhall, this week playing in the second row. Despite the occasional dangerous charge from their chunky 13 during which a penalty was surrendered, the game became balanced and the WOBS started winning turnovers from tackles and unforced errors. Our line-outs too were looking much better with a back-in-form Andrei Kanchelskis throwing some great balls to high-flying Nick Elvidge at 4. A couple of opportunities were missed when the WOBS twice entered the final quarter of the pitch only to make minor handling errors, and it was third time lucky when the WOBS executed a superb driving maul from a line-out for Jonathan to drive over the line to give us a 5-3 lead. The WOBS heads were in gear and our strategy of regular rotations amongst the front 5 was working, by ensuring that our forwards remained fresh. But against the run of play, we then conceded an easy try to finish the half at 5-8 down.
The half time team-talk was upbeat, with the WOBS realising that the game could be won in the forwards where we now clearly had the edge. The plan was simply to keep our heads and cut out the errors, and it was not long before we received just reward for our labours when Dom Suckling finished off a fine set of forward charges. The score of 10-8 in our favour seemed a good reflection of our growing superiority, but again our concentration wavered and a try to OAs saw the score fluctuate back to a three point deficit, of 10-13. At this point, entering the final fifteen minutes of the game, we played our best rugby and put enormous forward pressure on the Amplefordians’ line to score a decisive 7 pointer, when fly-half Rory Garratt was able to touch down virtually unopposed by our exhausted opponents, for us to go ahead 17-13.
We continued to turn the screw with a similar onslaught in the final 5 minutes – with the referee forced to warn OA’s for the defensive infringements. But our enthusiasm to finish them off, and to collect a winning fourth try bonus point, may have distracted us from the simple task of closing out the game – as we spurned a kickable penalty – and to their great credit the Amplefordians defended their line for all it was worth, mirroring our own defence of our line in the early stages of the game. Both sides were now knackered with one play left in the game and the WOBS camped just 10 metres from their line. A scrambled line-out saw the ball fall neatly into the hands of Quentin Macfarlane the OA scrum half, and he threw caution and the ball to the wind with a wide pass to his midfield backs. We missed our first up tackles and three passes later it was Amplefordians touching down in the opposite corner 80 metres away – having stolen the game and the match points to win 18-17.
Gutted is an over-used word in these World Cup days, but this best describes the emotions of the valiant WOBS. In contrast our opponents were ecstatic at their remarkable Great Escape – but to the neutral observer (if there were any?) this was a thrilling, fluctuating game played with great passion. Yes, the WOBS lost when they patently should not have done so, but in terms of performance and guts this match demonstrates that we have everything we need to do well in this League. If we keep to this level of effort in our games to come then, with just a small slice of luck, the victories will soon come.
The “Man of the Match” was awarded collectively to our quartet of front row players: Mako, Andrei, Toby and Nik.
Saturday 3rd October: WOBS 12 Old Georgians 26.
Saturday 26th Sept: Old Georgians 21 WOBS 0
Saturday 3rd October turned out to be disastrous day for English Rugby, and for the first 10 minutes of this game there was another disaster staring the WOBS in the face. Appalling tackling and general lethargy found us 3 tries down, with a sad scoreline of 21 nil to the Georgians.
But luckily it wasn’t all bad.
While the frustrated touch-line supporters were trying to
explain the situation to our nervous spectating parents, a
transformation took place. The scrum – which on paper seemed to
have some weight shortages – suddenly stabilised, and we started to
hold our own even though we were playing up the Whiteley slope.
Our attacks became more cohesive and in the second quarter it was
Georgians who were making the mistakes. We won several penalties
and opted to kick for attacking line-outs on the Georgians’ line.
Sadly our line-out capabilities did not match our scrummaging skills
and we came away from three good attacks with a disappointing nul
By this time the backs were running freely and fielding the Georgian clearances with relative ease, maintaining the pressure on our opponents by keeping the tempo of the game high. Close to half time a silky run from Archie from the left saw the winger drift through a packed defence to score under the posts – or more strictly at the base of the posts due to an impressive (and knowledgeable) stretch from the winger as he was tackled. The score was now a more respectable 7-21 and we were unlucky not to score again before the break.
The second half with the slope now in our favour didn’t start
as well as it should have. Our strategy to kick down the slope to
the right corner was thwarted by a spirited phase from the Georgians
during which we saw little of the ball. Conceding a soft try put
us back to 7-26, but it was a great credit to the team that we managed
to reassert ourselves with some flowing moves in the backs, leading to
a dazzling score from Kevin Danagher on the right wing. Our backs
were really humming now – and a second attempt on the same wing was
nearly successful. Better than that, the Georgians lost their
cool and conceded a series of penalties which kept us very much in the
game – despite an exhausted scrum, who had played their hearts
out. Alex Winter, playing his first full game after an injury
last season was immense, while Dom Robinson steadied the scrum superbly
at 8, and even had the energy to cover Osborne at prop, when Peter
opted for a 10-minute yellow card rest.
Saturday 26th Sept: Old Walcountians 31 WOBS 14.
The Old Reports
Saturday 28th Feb: Bec Old Boys 17 WOBS 7
Saturday 17th January: Mitcham 0 WOBS 55
Saturday 10th January: Croydon 7 WOBS 17
Saturday 3rd January: Woking 12 WOBS 36.
Saturday 6th December: WOBS 37 London Media 18
Saturday 22nd November: Met Police 7 WOBS 15.
South London Try-Fest keeps the WOBS firmly on Top of Surrey 3
Sat 18th October: Old Glynonians 16 WOBS 36
Surrey Sevens (19th July 2014): WOBS lose in the Bowl Final
The WOBS resumed ‘rugby matters’ briefly in mid July by putting out a strong squad for the annual Surrey Sevens competition at Esher RFC. With two of our most potent wingers in the team, Frankie Williams and Chris Brown, and the talented youngsters Max Bergot and James Kemp managing the midfield, we were optimistic of a good performance – despite being in a tough group for the day. Adam Braverman, relishing his new role as (sevens)prop, skippered the team.
We started slowly in our first pool game, against the Wombles of Old Wimbledonians RFC, conceding a soft early try, but soon settled against our bulky opponents, with Frankie happy to take on all their forwards at the same time with his barging breaks. Chris Brown, James Kemp, guest Tom McAviney and Max Bergot all scored – with four conversions from Max – to give us a comfortable 28-5 victory.
Then followed our toughest opponents, Old Reigatians, and after a series of early errors we found ourselves languishing at 26 down. Frankie led the revival with a typical try breaking down the left touchline, to kick right-footed over the covering defence, following up at a thunderous pace – so much so that the defending sweeper nervously mis-handled the ball to allow the Welsh wizard to pick up and score unopposed under the posts. A try quickly followed from James Kemp, and we were well back in the game at 14-26. With a bit more composure the WOBS could have snatched a late victory but in trying to force the game, we gifted a try to lose 14-33.
Our habit of starting poorly continued into the 3rd game, against a very nippy KCS Old Boys team and we again fell behind quickly conceding 4 tries for 0-22. But again the WOBS revived, in the second half, with Chris Brown breaking through twice to score, and James Kemp also grabbing a couple. One of these was the try of the day. Max at scrum half received the ball from a line-out, drifted effortlessly crossfield past two lunging forwards, delaying his pass, before popping the ball to James running a dead straight line – to run 40 metres to score under the posts. With a minute left, we were in full command 28-22 ahead, with the ball in hand, when James kicked through on the right, chasing well to touch down – only to have the try inexplicably disallowed. Sadly, our opponents took advantage of the ensuing ‘scrum back’ to work their way down the pitch, with exhausted WOBS tacklers flying all over the place, to score a 7-pointer under the posts, to win by a single point, 29-28.
This result took us into the Bowl semi-final where we played our best rugby against a Bank of England team, bolstered by several shameless pink-shorted Esher Under-21 ringers. We conceded our customary 12 points, then scored a magnificent sequence of six converted tries, with the hard-tackling Neil Pickford, and a rather dizzy Lee Howard joining in the try fest, which also included 2 from Max and another try each for James and Chris. A scoreline of 42-12 gave us great confidence for the Bowl Final, where we were to face former league rivals Old Emanuel.
Unfortunately, the Final was a bridge too far – with playmaker Dom Rollo-Walker now injured with a bad back and Lee still popping ibuprofen to sooth his bruised head – and we only had one substitute, super-sub Marco our sole scrummaging specialist. Nevertheless, we started well and were close to opening the scoring when Emanuel hauled Chris down short of the line, to start an onset of leg cramps which Chris could not shake off as the game progressed. We lost composure when subjected to a couple of snide off the ball incidents, which led to us leaking tries – to concede the game by 5 tries to 1, rescued by a single try from Neil Pickford in the closing minute of in the game.
Nevertheless this was a very good
performance from a very good squad. Two more players in the Squad
would have covered us for the injuries and tiredness in our later games
– and if we had had these, we could have had an ever better run.
A big thankyou goes to a very trim but equally powerful Frankie
Williams, for driving up from Cardiff to re-join the WOBS for the day.
Squad (with Points in brackets):
Egham Hollowegians 7’s Tournament – 14th June 2014
Last Saturday, an extremely strong WOBS side took the field in the
annual Egham 7’s tournament. The team was a mixture of young and old
providing the perfect blend of flair and experience. Conditions were
mixed, partly cloudy with glimpses of sun.
Saturday 5th April: Raynes Park 13 WOBS 25.
Did we find the missing hooker?
Now that is definitely a rhetorical question, because we sure did find a hooker, who played his best game of the season to earn the Man of the Match award. Phil Swann decided late in the week that rugby was a better idea than taking a weekend of R&R, and then proceeded to win all his scrums and several against the head – as well as having a good few dodging runs not only in the loose, but also wide out on the wings.
But it wasn’t all easy. In fact the WOBS, who had a very strong team on paper, struggled for the first part of this game – unable to cope with the ‘enthusiastic’ Raynes Park rucking and mauling – and we found ourselves 3-10 down at the half hour mark. Worse than that, we had lost Rory Garratt with a twisted knee after just 15 minutes in which Rory was orchestrating some dangerous attacks. But close to half time, the forwards started to click with their familiar pick-and-drives and, more importantly, we cut out our handling errors and turn-overs almost entirely. The front row of Giles Heather, Phil Swann and Peter Osborne were dominating the scrums; while Josh Taylor and Richard Brown (when he decided to wake up) were winning the line-outs. The back row of Adam Burbidge, Ken Maxwell and Jack Bodkin had taken control of the park, with Jack attacking from the base of the scrum at will, and Burbs deciding to test out his running lines with some hugely successful bursts through the midfield.
Behind the scrum, we had Rob
Rooney in the thick of much of the action at scrum half and, following
Rory’s injury, Kevin Danagher who opted to run almost everything at
10. Ed Kemp (“Kempy 1”) relished his chance of a crack at full
back, and ran very effectively from the deep to build some wide
attacks, and was also prominent in the pressure we applied to the
Raynes Park line, cart-wheeling across the line for a vital try just
before half time to restore the score to a more respectable deficit of
10-13. In the centres, Braverman led the way with some strong
tackles, especially when others in the team were miss-firing at the
start, joined by Lee Howard who held up the Raynes Park breaks on many
occasions. Lee reminded us of his powerful right boot with a
couple of 60 metre touch kicks to relieve the pressure as our opponents
tried to get back into the game. Wing duties were shared by Ben
Derbyshire, who always looked dangerous – despite being in great danger
himself when successfully juggling an impossible catch well in front of
his body while running at great speed – and by James Kemp (“Kempy 2”)
who ran some good lines in the second half, to earn himself his
customary try (his third in his 3 games with the WOBS – and our 3rd try
in this game).
Giles Sacarello, after a patient spell holding the flag, made an immediate impact (from the wing at first), leading a couple of side-stepping attacks down the right flank. With the forwards playing so well, the main positional changes were in the backs, where the switch of Kevin to fly half worked well – including his scoring the all-important second try to snatch the lead and take the initiative completely from our opponents. Lee again showed his versatility with an impressive 10 minutes at scrum half, brought about when Roons left the field temporarily to collect his thoughts, and those of an admiring spectator, while re-regained his breath.
This was a really good performance
all round for two-thirds of the game, with what turned out to be a
comfortable 25-13 win. Phil got the Man of the Match award, but
equally it could have gone to any one of the back row where, behind a
solid scrum for a change, Jack had possibly his most dominant game of
the season. Nothing could stop his charges. But we need to
be much more organised and committed from the start, and more clinical
at the end in we are going to do ourselves justice and earn a win off
the Met Police in our final league game.
A fourth try bonus point would
have boosted our League aspirations too. The high spirits of
victory continued after the game, and it was good to see the boys
enjoying a number of team-building beers together and the hospitality
of the Raynes Park clubhouse.
BACK TO TOP
Saturday 8th March: Old Haileyburians 52 WOBS 5
You can’t blame the players for this heavy defeat at the hands of Old
Haileyburians. On the contrary, the 13 men on the pitch (14 minus
Lee Howard who unfortunately pulled his hamstring in the warm-up) put
up one of the most exciting and gutsy displays of the season; and the
players could rightly feel that the Club had let them down badly.
The sad fact is that too many regulars had taken the weekend off,
leaving us greatly depleted with no reserves to help us.
Saturday 15th February: WOBS 7 Guildfordians 37
We did well to play this game, as the Whiteley pitch was one of the few in Surrey not under water, so we were able to offer our home ground for this “away” fixture.
We started down the hill, and from the outset the WOBS contested well to be evenly matched in the open play. Ominously though, we were losing the scrums to a heavyweight Guildfordian front 5 to give our front row trio of Giles, Harry and Peter a torrid time, and we had no particular advantage in the line-outs. Guildfordians were smart from the start and their kicking for territory was spot on. The loss of Adam Braverman early in the half, after a high challenge where he was unfortunate to be yellow-carded as well as injured, did not help our cause, and at half time we had slipped to a 13-0 deficit. Highlights were a superb steal from a crowded maul by Dan Pring; and a painful try-saving tackle from behind by Lee Howard: a real “face-saver” as Leeroy discovered to his relief when receiving medical attention to his forehead straight after.
The WOBS re-grouped with resolve for their uphill task in the second half, but conceded an early 7-pointer to drop to 20-0. Spirits could have sagged at this point, as the scrum was now in further disarray, with Number 8 Jack Bodkin forced to apply all his skills to scoop the ball from the feet of his retreating front row, but still the WOBS came back at their opponents. We now began to run everything, with Harry Killoughery throwing every ball wide to his centres and wings. A big break to our right saw the ball pass rapidly from Richard Evans to Killoughery and on to Giles Heather bursting on the outside, flanked by an unlikely but equally rapid Josh Taylor. Unfortunately, Giles was felled before he could release the ball to Josh, who surely would have galloped the remaining 20 metres for a classic try. No matter, a few minutes later, the WOBS repeated the move, but this time it was left wing Kempy who was wide on the right to show his elders how to do it, first cutting in and then shrugging off two would-be tacklers to score a stunning try near the posts for 7 points.
The Guildfordians responded to our challenge with a classy try of their own from a series of sweeping moves right across the park – but the WOBS still kept the ball moving. There was a superb show-and-go from newboy flanker Angus, to start a dangerous attack in the centre, after excelling with some devastating low tackles, one round the laces of a single passing boot. Chris Turner, now fully recovered from his nuptials, was also very active in the second half, with some strong charges and tackles in the loose. In fact the whole pack, from the front row to the back, did very well to keep their effort going right through to the end, and Giuliano on the right wing acted as an extra flanker, often being the first man into the maul to secure the ball after the tackle.
There was a lot to learn from this
game, and if we want to feature in this League we need to do a couple
of fairly straight forward things. The first lesson is that we
need to adjust our game plan, and quickly too, to suit the
occasion. So if we’re faced by a massive front 5, then we have to
be smart enough to spread the ball away from the main contact areas
early on – to tire our opponents out. Secondly, as a small club,
it’s essential that we make sure we have key positions adequately
covered well in advance of the game: this means that regular players
need to set aside the important League dates and they need to stick to
Simple stuff really.
Saturday 8th February: WOBS 5 Old Caterhamians 47
There had been a big build-up to this game, with a great response from the whole Squad – so it was unfortunate indeed to suffer two problems on the day of the game, first the loss of Ben Forbes (who departed at 06:30 to help his flooded mother) and secondly the injury to our man-in-form Dom Bosher, in the opening minute of the match.
Given these set-backs, it is much to the boys’ credit that we still took the game to the Old Caterhamians. But the sad reality is that, despite this fire, we lost the percentages: we missed out on some critical breaks in the first half; we struggled in the scrums; and regularly came second in the turn-over situations. Our opponents were simply better than us, and were always ready and eager to counter-attack through their well organised backs, with pace and good running lines from the centres and their impressive full-back, Ben Doney.
We conceded 4 tries in the first half, at least two of which could have been prevented by more decisive tackling, and we ourselves had at least two good opportunities to score when playing up the hill. After making a good break from defence Kevin Danagher held the ball, correctly but just a fraction too long, when supported by three outside runners facing only three Cats defenders. And not long after, Chris Brown had a blistering run up his favoured right wing, beating two defenders on the outside before being dragged down by the last line of the Cats’ defence. A half time deficit of 26-0 could have been much closer if we had had just a smidgeon of good fortune.
For the second half, with the wind sun and slope in our favour, it was critical that we got a good start. But instead we started sluggishly, and although our touch-down talisman Chris did get his expected try it took us a full 15 minutes to make this breakthrough – and we continued to leak 3 further tries as tiredness set in, to give our opponents a comfortable margin of victory. Despite the disappointing score-line, there were several notable features in our game, namely: the excellent defensive catching and counter-attacking by Kevin Danagher and Eoin O’Connor in the first half; the front row heroics in very trying circumstances particularly by Fez Barber who found himself hooking for much of the game; Olly Owen’s urgency and bossing throughout; Nick Elvidge’s ankle tackles; Jack Bodkin miraculously retrieving the ball from the back row of a fast retreating scrum; and the customary Braverman charges into the midfield. All this augurs well for our next game. Provided – and this is a big proviso – we manage to establish a solid front row platform at the outset.
Olly Owen deservedly got the Man-of-the-Match award, and the team spirits were buoyant enough to enjoy a good night out after the game at the Hurlingham, where Nick Elvidge received a special award for the dubious distinction of being yellow-carded for receiving a punch on the chin.
Saturday 1st February: WOBS 7 Haslemere 5
The WOBS were startled at
the start when faced with a feisty aggressive scrum half and a
hard-running South African number 8 who charged through half a dozen
half-hearted tackles in the opening minutes.
The pressure from Haslemere, playing down the hill, continued steadily and our flimsy shoulder-high tackling eventually allowed them a try in our right corner – a few minutes after a foot in touch by the same winger had given the WOBS a short reprieve. Fortunately, the WOBS re-gathered and upped our game at this point, with Man of the Match Dom Bosher rampant all round the pitch with some powerful bull-dozing charges showing real pace. There was one beautiful phase of play in the backs when the ball slipped effortlessly through a half a dozen pairs of the hands to Tomek on the left wing – and we were unlucky not to score. The teams remained locked at 0-5 for the rest of the half, despite injuries to Fez Barber (who played on), Giles Sacarello (who managed to donate half a pint of blood from his grazed head before the claret flow was stemmed by the Calnan medical team) and to playmaker Rory Garratt who twisted his knee early on in the game.
Turning round to play down the hill, with the wind and sun behind us,
it seemed that the task of overturning a 5 point deficit would be
simple enough in the second half. Provided of course we remembered the
game plan. Sadly we didn’t kick to the corner, and the WOBS suffered a
series of mishaps and mishandlings in the midfield – which Haslemere
were finding rather easy to deal with.
However, Dan Pring, back on the pitch for the first time in 10 months was spoiling our opponents line-out ball to great effect; and with the centre partnership of Giuliano Russo and newboy Ben Owen giving us good defensive cover in the midfield, it seemed unlikely that Haslemere would score. Full back Kevin Danagher was looking dangerous with a series of searing runs which were only repulsed by some desperate Haslemere tackling.
A stroke of luck came with 12 minutes to go, when Haslemere dropped the ball on their own 22 after being given the advantage following a knock-on by WOBS. Quick as a flash Harry Killoughery booted the ball through and was first to the touch down under the posts.
The WOBS held on gamely for the last 10 minutes, including two of the
best tap-tackles you might ever see: the first from late substitute
Harry Glaisher who felled an attacking forward with a full-length
tackle from behind just as the victim was about to dive for the line;
and the second from Giles Sacarello who repeated Harry’s feat with an
almost identical tackle. We were very lucky indeed to win this game,
but it shows how far the WOBS have come in the last few weeks that we
have repeatedly managed to pluck a victory in the final minutes. We’ll
need to be at least 50% better than this – particularly in the key
skill areas of passing in the backs and tackling generally – if we are
to trouble next weeks’ opponents, the League leaders Old Caterhamians.
Maybe the current WOBS now have the belief in themselves to do this, but we need the discipline and application too.
Saturday 25th January: Mitcham 17 WOBS 25.
The second half of our season commenced with a mid-table clash against arch-rivals Mitcham. After our tame 20-20 draw against them in October, only a win would satisfy the WOBS’ new ambitions in this League.
Fortunately the troops had responded well to the call to arms this week and, even with the enforced late withdrawals of skipper Bodkin (weekend work) and Osborne (shoulder), we were able to field a strong 18 – bolstered by the long awaited return of Giles “Three-Guinness” Sacarello on the flank and the debut game for Fez Barber to reinforce the front row.
A strong front row of Giles Heather, Phil Swann and Ben Forbes set the
tone of this game by immediately taking control of the set piece scrums
– a stunning contrast to the situation in October where we had buckled
badly against the heavyweight Mitcham scrum. With the wind, slope and
sun in our favour the WOBS experienced a fairly comfortable first half,
with some effective driving mauls led by a dominant Adam Burbidge from
the back of the scrum.
These drives soon led to a simple try by Chris
Brown near the posts (despite Chris having his neck wrenched in the
opposite direction as he touched down). No yellow card was offered,
and a further offence soon after gave Harry Killoughery the chance to
add a penalty to put us a comfortable 10-nil ahead. At this point,
Mitcham rallied and spent a good period attacking our line.
Although we defended well, with some tidy defence and strong tackling all round especially in the centres with the new pairing of Adam Braverman and Ken Maxwell, we were dismayed when the referee awarded a try to Mitcham when (as far as we could see!) the man over the line was clearly ‘held up’. With half time looming, and our line-outs not going well in the wind, it looked as though we had spurned too many of our first half opportunities, when another forward drive, marshalled by scrum half Olly Owen, resulted in fast, clean ball for Giles Heather to pop up in the centre to grab a much-needed try. 15-5 ahead at the interval.
Things looked glum for us at the start of the second half when a charge down gave Mitcham a soft try minutes after the break. And from here on the Mitcham boys used all their home advantage – the slope, sun and now a massive wind in their favour – to pin us back repeatedly into our own 22. Our clearance kicks were ineffective and it seemed just a matter of time before we would succumb to the intense pressure. Then came the first inspirational moment. Chris Brown, who had dropped well back on his right wing to field the deep kicks from the Mitcham midfield backs, took a good catch in our 22 and then set off to take on the whole Mitcham team, electing to beat the advancing players on the outside not once but three times in quick succession. The third swerve, on the heavy and damp Mitcham turf, took a lot out of our tiring athlete, but Chris summoned up the energy to accelerate again, dragging the final defender with him on his back to score a magnificent try in the corner.
This was not enough to secure the victory, as Mitcham soon riposted
with a converted try to get back to 17-20, which seemed too slim a
margin for the WOBS to survive the final 15 minutes. At this point, to
their great credit, the WOBS took the game to their opponents, edging
our way up the very large pitch – with a sprightly Dom Bosher making
two incisive runs deep into the Mitcham cover defence. With five
minutes left in the game, the ball swung across to our right flank
again, where our talisman Chris was able to offer a brief reprise of
his second try (travelling just 35 metres this time) to punch the ball
down in his favourite corner, for a remarkable hat-trick. Mitcham were
crushed and the WOBS had secured a massive bonus-point victory. No
prizes for guessing who got the Man of the Match award this week.
Skipper for the day, Adam Braverman, praised the bulldog spirit of the
WOBS with the observation: “this was the kind of situation which we
would have lost in the first half of the season”.
Yes, Bravs, the boys have indeed come a long way – with much more to come.
Saturday 4th January: WOBS 30 Effingham 25
Saturday 14th December: Reigate 18 WOBS 38
It was “Surrey Bowl Saturday”, but the game was a late arrangement not on the original Fixture List – with the result that several of our battered Forwards had taken an early Christmas break, putting the team under some pressure. Fortunately for us, the Backs were alert to the challenge and showed up in force eager to repeat their recent displays of flair-driven attacking rugby.
A big thank you goes to the three men who took up front row duties for the match: our new signing Ed, Andy Thick and Marco Boodramsingh. While these 3 were packing down, we were able to hold Reigate but, as the game developed, when others tried to relieve them in the front row, we were in real trouble – eventually losing both Andy and Marco to injuries in the final quarter. With a make-shift pack, the game was always going to be a matter of whether the WOBS could get enough possession. So the WOBS were grateful that, in the early part of the game, Reigate helped us considerably by kicking to our sure-handed backs who were able to run back at Reigate with real purpose. Our first score was an opportunist try from a slick pick-up by centre Rory Garratt when our opponents spilled the ball on their 22 metre line. Soon after this our flanker Rooney scored a second try following a series of wide attacks on the right. Although the WOBS were clearly on top, the half time score of 12-6 to us was no guarantee of a favourable result.
The first part of the second half changed all that when the WOBS backs, aided and abetted by two additional backs Giuliano and Rooney playing in the forwards, made a series of wide sweeps across the field from side to side and back again. Speedster James Wall on the left wing eventually rounded his opposite number in the corner to give us our third try, and our right wing was unlucky not to match this with another move on the other side. Rookie sub James Kemp had now established himself in the outside centre channel, fed by Rory and urged on by the real Kempy at full-back, with some penetrating runs through the Reigate midfield, and was rewarded with a fine try. Not to be outdone, fly half Harry, having shipped the ball continuously through the game, decided that a small gap was worth exploiting, and slipped past his opposite number to take a silky solo try. Both these tries in the final quarter were scored despite the fact that with our two front injuries we had only 14 on the pitch. The team can take great credit for sustaining our defensive effort late into the game.
Other features of the game were a surprisingly effective trio of line jumpers: Raff (yes!), Ed and the other WOBS debutant Tom Poynder. Tom also anchored the pack very effectively at #8, and was active all round the pitch – and caused great confusion to our opponents with his tirade of tactical counter-calls in the line-outs. Olly was imperious at scrum half, but his single line-out throw deserves a special mention – for quaintness – though no doubt Olly will argue that at least we won the ball that way. Kevin Danagher led the team well and bravely gave up the comfort of the full back position to experience a very painful 15 minutes of hooking duties. Each of our 3 front row players Ed, Andy and Marco could have been Man-of-the-Match, but Ed edged it with his all-round display of propping, catching and some superb turn-overs in the tackle. Ed is a great find for the WOBS.
The WOBS now take a well-earned
Christmas break, with our next games scheduled for 4th and 11th
January. The date for the Surrey Bowl quarter-final is still to
be announced. Although these matches are Friendlies, players will
need the match practice if we are to resume our 4-game winning streak
successfully. All players need to step up and get games under
their belt if they want to compete in the League game on 25th
January. Happy Christmas to all WOBS and our supporters.
Saturday 7th December: WOBS 50 Raynes Park 16
A third ‘bonus point’ win on the trot – and now the WOBS are buzzing! Clearly the decision to hold our Christmas Drinks in November has done a great deal for our morale….and the prospects are looking good for the New Year with many players returning from injury.
OK, the Raynes Park opposition were not particularly fit, but the key feature of the WOBS team this week was that every one of the starting backs had pace, to give us many options in attack. The forwards were perhaps our lightest this season. But the stalwart WOBS props Giles Heather and Marco Boodramsingh were joined this week by Andy Thick to give us a solid platform – for a make-piece second row of Raff and newboy Ed – with a highly mobile back row of Ken Maxwell, Monsieur Eurostar Elvidge and Jack Bodkin. In effect we had four flankers on the pitch and so, with rolling Raff at his speediest best on the loose ball, the forwards were able to do enough to hold the Raynes Park heavies to allow the backs to wreak their havoc.
Five tries in the first half virtually sealed the game to give us 31-6 lead, with powerful running from all the backs. They were fed with clinical efficiency by half-backs Olly Owen and Harry Killoughery and the versatile Rory Garratt now at 12, to give all four of the outside backs Rooney, Kempy, Kevin and James Wall a try apiece. Hooker Andy Thick joined in the party to score as well. Maybe we could have scored some more tries if we had completed the final pass, but the good news that we were looking after the ball, and had many fewer errors. With our under-the-weather skipper Jack taking a short sub break at half time, we let the game slip (once again) for 15 minutes in the second half, due in part to a yellow card for our flamboyant, but rather too fluorescent, yellow-sleeved Neapolitan, for one roll too many into a ruck. Normal service was soon resumed, thanks again to the steady defensive kicks of fly half Harry Killoughery, and three further tries were scored, the first from Ed and then a second try for Andy Thick. The team saved the best try of the day till the end, as Ken made a centre’s break through a gap on the right and would surely (?) have completed the remaining 40 metres to score himself but instead opted to ship a perfectly weighted pass to substitute Eoin O’Connor to streak through for his score. Classy.
There were several candidates for Man-of-the-Match, with newcomer Ed and Andy Thick both in contention, but Andy clinched it with a strong all-round performance all around the pitch: using his martial arts skills to good effect on many occasions, where he seemed to be holding back the trundling Raynes Park forwards entirely on his own. Great effort, Andy.
With the maximum 15 points now from our last three games, the WOBS have risen to the giddy heights of 4th in the table. On our day, we are clearly a force to be contended with in this league. But we need to remember that “our day” requires the platform of a solid front row, our share of line-out ball, and a coordinated group of running backs – if we are to put any pressure on the Leaders of the League. So let’s keep the competition for places high – and make sure that we all do our best to be available for matches.
Up the WOBS!
Saturday 30th November: Old Glynonians 5 WOBS 40
What’s going on here? After
a poor start to the season with injuries and absences leaving big gaps
in the side, the team has at last taken shape, and the WOBS now look
set to get some good results. Our form continued this week with a
resounding 40-5 victory, to follow last week’s solid 26-6 win.
An early kick-off curtailed our warm up, but this didn’t seem to matter as the WOBS tore into our stunned opponents from the off. Crucially, this week our handling and ball retention was a 100% better and the Old Glynonians were hustled into making errors. Successive charges down the left wing from the back row after set piece scrums, first by Jack and then by Adam Burbidge, the second of which involved a text-book offload from Burbs to Ben Green on his inside, took us far up the pitch. And it was not long before we were able to drive over the line, for our first try, courtesy of Ed Hackett. More pressure on their line followed, and our mercurial right winger Rob Rooney, in rampant ‘hunting’ mood for the ball, put himself in the right place to score a centre’s try on the left to give us the comfort of a 12-0 lead. A third try, also on the left, was snatched by Tomek, who gracefully then took a rest to let Chris Brown have a taste of the action – allowing Chris a couple of strong attacks into the Glyn midfield to break up the play. Marco too made a lot of yards with one important charge. After a penalty from Rory, we were sitting on a comfortable 20-0 lead, when the team mysteriously decided to throw away the game-plan and started running everything from our own line – with zero success. This stopped our momentum and gave our opponents heart – allowing them to play their best rugby. To the WOBS’ credit, we defended well at this point, with Josh Taylor making a stunning double-tackle on the right flank, and we did not concede a try– which was indeed fortunate as a score to Glyn at this stage of the match would have turned the game in their favour.
The second half continued with more pressure from Glynonians, as the game narrowed with opposing sets of forwards engaged at close quarters, with Rory Garratt and Adam Braverman joining in with some big defensive tackles, and Richard Brown popping up everywhere to stifle the Glyn attacks. Fortunately the WOBS’ game-plan came back into play as fly half Harry Killoughery used the wind wisely to drive Glyn back into their own half with some big kicks into the open areas. With this platform, and more discipline from the whole team, possession came our way again – and we picked up four more tries in the latter part of the game. Chris Brown was devastating in attack, scoring two tries, and just missing out on a second half hat-trick. One wonders why he doesn’t play more often. Kevin had a sound defensive game again, and was handy in attack too, picking up a try. Injuries prevented us from scoring more points, losing Ben Green in the first half and then Burbs to a shoulder injury and Josh to a twisted knee. Luckily we had Raff Marino available to up the tempo in the second half with some high energy carries. The injuries brought the injured Ken Maxwell back onto the pitch to grab a try himself – but the WOBS were happy to hear the final whistle, announcing a 40-5 victory.
This was a great result, promising
a lot for the rest of the season – provided we manage stay fit and can
avoid injuries. The victory also allowed the WOBS the chance to
‘relax’ fully for the Christmas Drinks which followed the game
Saturday 23rd November: WOBS 26 Old Haileyburians 6
At last, the WOBS came good with a highly-committed performance to deliver a much-needed win, and an important bonus point.
All had gone well during the week, with the formation of a well balanced team (more about in the next paragraph) with the exception of the scrum half position, which suffered a series of unfortunate call-offs. No names will be mentioned on this occasion. All was resolved however when ‘winger and wannabe centre’ Rob Rooney stood up to don the #9 shirt on the day, and gave a first class and bruising performance, to allow the returning Rory Garratt to have a fine game at #10.
The balance of the team was clear to see from the opening set piece where the experienced front row of Ben Forbes, Ed Hackett and Giles Heather gave a rock solid platform for the scrum, even though we were playing up the Whiteley hill. Behind them we had team stalwart Richard Brown and a welcome return from James Henwood, a combination which gave us very good line out options. Richard won his usual share of balls at 2 in the line, which James made several important steals at 4. Despite the absence of skipper Jack Bodkin in the back row (due to Jack’s ushering commitment to new WOB Chris Turner – who appears not to have read the script concerning marriages during the League season) we were strong in this department too. Ken Maxwell had a fine return after his hamstring injury and Raffaele gave a controlled display for three-quarters of the game. Adam Burbidge took up the number 8 duties with relish, and had some very effective bludgeoning runs into the Haileyburian defence and, crucially, offloaded safely to his fellow forwards.
Our start was strong and, playing up the hill, we stayed in the Haileyburians quarter of the pitch for long periods, spurning penalty kicks at goal to pin our opponents to their right hand try line. Although our pick and drives were good, we made too many unforced handling errors which delayed our scoring. Eventually though the WOBS’ pressure told and a big charge from Adam Burbidge, led to a neat offload to Ben Forbes on the burst to score a peach of a try under the posts, and a debut WOBS try for Ben. The try-scoring prop summarised it modestly after the game: “The defence was too slow to comprehend my speed and agility”…..hmmmm. The WOBS could have had many more points in the first half if we had managed to cut out our handling errors. Instead we settled on a 7-3 lead at the interval, which could have been a 7-10 deficit but for a try-stopping tackle from Kevin Danagher.
With the slope now in our favour for the second half, the WOBS upped their game with the backs coming into play for the first time in the season, marshalled to great effect by Rory at fly-half. Adam Braverman and Ed Kemp had bottled up the midfield with some solid defence against potentially very dangerous runners – who themselves were forced into errors by the WOBS tight defensive line, which included Giuliano Russo who kept the left wing safe. But it was fullback Kevin who turned the game with two blistering breaks down the right flank. The first break culminated in a slick switch to speedster Tomek to run in for a classy try, while the second break needed no help at all as Kevin ghosted his way through the disorganised Haileyburian defences to swing the match firmly in our favour. After a sequence of forward drives, Raffaele scored our fourth try, and with it a welcome bonus point, to seal victory for a WOBS team. Our subs were all used in the second half, with flu-filled Harry providing scrum half relief to a battered Rooney. Newcomer Ollie Turner reinforced the back row for the last 30 minutes, showing his pace with a speedy break through the forwards in the final quarter. As it happened, the Haileyburians played their best rugby in the final 10 minutes, forcing the WOBS to do a lot of tackling to keep our line intact. ‘Rather too Rampant’ Raffaele made things a tad more difficult for us in this period by picking up an unnecessary yellow card for foul play, minutes after returning to the field after a sub-change. But our defences held and the game finished without further incident and without conceding a try.
Rory Garratt, Kevin Danagher and
Adam Burbidge were contenders for the Man-of-the-Match award, with
‘Burbs’ getting the nod for his power and control in the back
row. After the game stand-in skipper Adam Braverman commended the
whole team for ‘giving their all for the full 80 minutes’. Let’s
make this happen again in the next 2 League games before Christmas –
and if we can cut out the loose handling errors we may be in for a
Saturday 9th November: London Media 39 WOBS 7.
This was yet another tough game for the WOBS, but we were grateful for reinforcements from Ben Forbes and Chris Brown, returning for their first game since last season, and Craig Monteiro who brought his Rugby League colleague Martyn Duell to add much needed weight to the forwards.
The game was contested strongly
from the start, and we were soon in trouble against a well-drilled and
heavy London Media pack. Despite the lack of possession, Adam and
Craig put in some big hits in the centres to hold back the tide.
Chris Brown matched this effort with some textbook tackles on the right
wing – but it was the forwards who took the brunt of the heavy duty
The line-out was better this game with Richard Brown and Nick Elvidge winning some ball, but our main chances seemed to be coming from loose ball after the breakdown. Harry Killoughery at fly half found space to make a few breaks, but the wet conditions meant our error count was high, and our passing and catching let us down in the few clean chances we had. Maybe too we needed to kick for territory on occasions?
After conceding two tries, we
broke back into the game with a superb 70 metre run by Chris Brown to
bring the score to 7-12, and we held our opponents to a modest lead of
just 7-17 at half time. Unfortunately, the second half playing up
the slope was a torrid affair for the forwards, especially after Ben
Forbes was forced to leave the field with a cut head. Time after
time we were shoved off the scrums and, despite this, sometimes Jack
was able to retrieve the ball from the retreating scrum. Given
our weight disadvantages, it was actually a great credit to the
tackling and the spirit of the team that we did not lose more heavily,
limiting our opponents to 4 tries in the second half.
In the gloom of the second half there were some bright spots, most noticeably the safe catches and attacking breaks from Daniele Cardinale on the left wing, and the tireless running of Ed Kemp and Nick Elvidge all round the park. Nick got the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
We need a full squad of 18 players, including 2 forward replacements, if we are going to compete properly in this League.
Saturday 2nd November: WOBS 14 Guildfordians 76
(Tries: Braverman, O’Connor. Cons: O’Connor 2).
Saturday 26th October: Old Caterhamians 17 WOBS 0.
This game promised so much, delivered so much – but finished in disappointment.
From the start, the WOBS played
with more fire and skill than we have for many a game. Playing up
a steep hill into a strong wind, we put enormous pressure on the Old
Caterhamians from the first whistle, spending nearly all of the first
40 minutes in our opponents’ half. Pick and drive was our most
effective weapon, with Tom Middlehurst, Jack Bodkin, Ed Hackett and
Josh Taylor prominent in a highly effective forward unit, and with
Richard Brown dominating the line-outs.
This was 10-man rugby at its best, as required for the conditions, with Ollie Owen bossing the forwards as usual, and Harry Killoughery at fly-half controlling the game with safe hands and some very effective kicks into the wind – or choosing to give the ball to our ‘ninth forward’ Adam Braverman to bosh up in the midfield. Our handling in the heavy rain was excellent, while in contrast Old Cats spilled the ball often, allowing us to work our way steadily up the pitch – even when our opponents cleared massively with the wind into our half. We were unlucky not to convert a kick at goal, and also to score a try on the left after a superbly-disciplined forward attack involving half a dozen phases.
Nil-nil at the interval with the advantages of the slope and the wind to look forward to in the second half seemed a good position to be in. At this point, however, a new game started as the Cats copied our lead with some of their own driving mauls in the second half. Our possession dried up, and our opponents succeeded in nullifying our clearance kicks too with some excellent deep defence from their back 3, with their fullback and left wing coming back into the game strongly. Unfortunately their handling improved markedly too when the rain stopped. The score remained locked at 0-0 well into the half, with the WOBS now forced onto the defensive, with much tackling to be done in the backs, where the back 3 of Kevin Danagher, Rob Rooney and Ben Calnan (as always) pulled off a series of vital tackles. But eventually tiredness and errors set in and the Caterhamians plundered 3 soft tries in the final quarter – delighted to have salvaged such a good result in such a close-fought game.
To play so well and find yourselves 0-17 down at the end was a bitter disappointment for the WOBS on the pitch. Of course there are big positives, namely the disciplined forward effort in the loose, as well as holding our own in the set piece scrums even when playing up the slope. On the other hand, fitness (for the full 80 minutes) remains an issue, plus we need some basic match-savvy to make sure we don’t lose our concentration at vital stages in the game. We also need to have 2 specialist forward replacements on the bench – to allow better rotation in the pack.
This League is proving tough for
us – so let’s make sure we all commit to all Match Saturdays this
season. Find out when they are, and stick to the dates. We
simply cannot afford to make wholesale changes our team every
Sat 12th October: WOBS 20 Mitcham 20
After a difficult week of shortages in the scrum, due to injuries to Dom Bosher, Peter Osborne and skipper Jack Bodkin in last week’s game, we pitched into this game with only 8 recognised forwards. All three bench reserves were backs – but it’s fair to say that at least 2 of those backs think they are forwards, so there was cover of a kind.
Any concerns we may have had about the balance of the team were banished in the opening minutes when, playing down the hill, the WOBS immediately took a firm control of the game. The front row of Giles Heather, Harry Foster and Ed Hackett was comfortably holding their tubby opposite numbers; and the line-outs were going well with Richard Brown imperious at number 2, supported ably by Josh Taylor at 4. The makeshift back row of Raffaele, Ken and Chris jelled very quickly – and things were going pretty well in that area too. As a result, the forwards were getting good ball to the new half-back pairing of Ben Green and Harry Killoughery, who were able to release the ball to centres Adam Braverman and Giuliano Russo (those two WOBS wannabe flankers).
A wide break out to the left wing led to an attacking line-out for the WOBS, which was soon followed by a deserved early try for Richard Brown. Mitcham struck back with a penalty but the WOBS’ advantage was now established with the back row trio dominant in the loose. An unfortunate knee injury to hooker Harry Foster, who was having a great all-round game, surprisingly did not dent this domination – and the WOBS continued to score freely. Harry Killoughery drifted through 3 stunned Mitcham defenders to touch down; and then Ben Green scored in an amazing, jinky 50-metre dart through the Mitcham mid-field traffic, to give us a healthy and deserved half-time lead of 17-3.
Despite having now to play up the
slope, the WOBS were not threatened until a finger injury forced Giles
Heather to leave the field. Unfortunately we did not have a
second recognised front row replacement so, bravely, Josh Taylor
volunteered for prop duty….in order to avoid uncontested scrums, which
would have necessitated us playing with only 14 players. Equally
bravely, fly-half Nick Hopkins took over in the second row from Josh,
quite effectively in the event. Aware of our front row
difficulties, Mitcham now focused entirely on their forward effort, and
the game now degenerated into a series of painful scrums for the WOBS,
as Mitcham slowed the game down and we were starved of possession
almost entirely. This was unfortunate as we had real pace in our
starting back three of Rob Rooney, Daniele Cardinale and Kevin Danagher
– with speedsters Tom and Ben Calnan also available from the
bench. Our tackling round the fringes of the forwards was
immense, with fullback Kevin also making some heavy duty tackles, and
the clearance kicking of Harry Killoughery kept our line intact for
most of the third quarter but, eventually the cracks appeared and
Mitcham scored. In the final quarter we also suffered an
unfortunate try after a tentative kick from Mitcham which trickled over
our try-line unattended. We fought back with a penalty to
establish a 20-13 lead, which should have been a sufficient margin to
grind out a victory, but the award of a penalty try to our opponents in
the final 5 minutes put paid to that ambition. Indeed we were
lucky at the end when Mitcham opted to kick for touch rather than take
a penalty shot at goal – no doubt fearing the WOBS counter-attack from
our pacey, but underutilised, backs.
Old Radleians 41 WOBS 39
Saturday 28th September: WOBS 30 Met Police 34
(Owen 1T, Green 1T , Danagher 1T. Owen: 3C, 3P)
Let’s start then with the positives. The forward effort was strong, with Ed Hackett, Harry Foster and Nick Elvidge all prominent; the kicking and game control of Ollie Owen at 10 was top notch, fed well by the long passes of Brucey at 9; the running of the back three was good, led by Kevin Danagher’s incisive breaks; the silky skills of Lee Howard and Ben Green the centres – all of these were good enough to win a game. Plus we had a good balance of youth and experience in the Squad, and the team spirit was in evidence in the Clubhouse after the game – where a dozen shirt-and-tie players stayed on to talk and meet the newer players. We even had two superb early contenders for the annual Pink Fluffy Cushion award when, first, our power-house Giuliano Russo emerged running at full speed with ball in hand from the from the far side of a massive maul and, later on in the game, when Marco made his own bid for immortality with the daftest up-and-under kick ever seen at Whiteley.
where were the problem areas? (besides that crazy up-and-under). The
pre-match preparation was definitely marred by the fact that several
players were late for the game, all with good reasons due to some major
M25 traffic problems, but unfortunate nevertheless. We started with a
different line-up than planned, and suffered a couple of early injuries
to prop Alex Neville-Smith and full-back Giuliano – which necessitated
an early call on our subs. The most noticeable short-fall on the pitch
though was the ineffective tackling, as fitness declined in the last
quarter. And not many teams can afford to take 2 yellow cards in a
game and come away victorious. One spectator summed it up very
Nuff said. Where do we go next?
The WOBS cannot afford to come 2nd in these early games. Momentum is a great motivator and the WOBS certainly need to put in some serious effort to get a “W” to get our season up and running. We need to treat League Games as important events, emblazoned in our diaries so we don’t miss them. This means arriving at games before the designated time. And making sure that week-ends in the country and watching important ‘other’ rugby games take place on our “free” Saturdays. It’s good to see the growing team spirit on the pitch, but people need to extend this sense of commitment to planning and organising themselves to support their team on all League Saturdays.
We have the chance to do this on 5th October in our next game, against Old Radleians. Let’s make sure we have a strong 18 man squad, and keep 15 players on the pitch for the full 80 minutes. And make sure you clear your Diaries for 12th 26th October; 2nd 9th 23rd 30th November; and 7th December.
Saturday 21st Sept: Old Emanuel 25 WOBS 22
The WOBS started this game at a canter with some strong and direct plays from the forwards, with Josh Taylor prominent in the early stages – making a big impact after a 7 year gap from playing with the WOBS. The backs soon got into gear with some quick and safe handling right across the field to put the Old Emanuel team under a lot of pressure. Prop Alex Neville-Smith caught the attacking mood, and within 5 minutes he had shrugged off several tackles in a 40 metre dash from the back of a loose maul to score in the left corner.
For the first half of the game the WOBS handling, both in the backs and in the forwards, remained crisp. Richard Brown and James Henwood gave us good options in the line-outs, while Peter Osborne was doing a lot of the close quarter work. Under the astute direction of man-of-the-match scrum half Ollie Owen, the WOBS were in control of the game – and two further tries followed. The first was a routine move in the centres which was finished powerfully by Giuliano; while the second was a superb solo effort from full-back Kevin, who worked his way down the right flank, with the ball in both hands throughout, to score from the half-way line. Harry Killoughery converted two of the tries, and had an even better run himself from our half, jinking and stepping his way straight through the OE defences, only to be hauled down metres from the line – missing out on what could have been the try of the season. We leaked a couple of tries ourselves, to finish the half at 19-12 ahead, but we were in no trouble at all – and a deserved victory looked well on the cards at this point.
the second half was a different matter altogether as our opponents came
out fighting, with skipper Jack taking a nasty kick in the head.
Injuries were now common, and the play slowed down to a snail’s pace as
our possession dried up. In the heat of the second half we
conceded two soft tries, the first due to a rapid, and somewhat crafty,
re-start after an OE player went down injured; and the second when a
freak bounce allowed their hopeful chasing winger to touch down while
the WOBS looked on. Finding ourselves now 22-19, and receiving a
battering on the pitch, we gathered our resources to push towards the
OE line, with Ozzy Idemudia making some strong breaks. We got the
reward of a penalty, coolly slotted by Harry to level the scores at 22
all, only to concede a penalty ourselves, which was converted to give
our ecstatic opponents an unexpected 25-22 victory with the last kick
of the match.
Without any good ball in the second half, we were put firmly on the back foot. And as our fitness ran out, the mistakes multiplied; we needed more composure and to kick for position before trying to attack. The big learning for us from this game was that we need to play smarter – and the fitness needs to improve – but nevertheless this was a very encouraging performance from the team, and an excellent preparation for our first League Game next Saturday. A big thank you goes to Phil Swann and Chris Turner who helped out on the day, Chris surprising everybody but himself with a perfectly flighted 50-metre clearance screw-kick from our try-line. Class indeed.
2012-3 ReportsSaturday 6th April: Law Society 62 WOBS 13
(Tries: Rayfield, Riley. Penalty: Breen)
This was a hard game to play at the end of a difficult season. Skipper Jack made his usual plea: “Let’s try to play as well as we know we can – for the full 80 minutes”…. but once again this was a bridge too far for the willing but weary WOBS.
We started brightly winning three early midfield penalties, incidentally all three coming after tidy runs from Ben Calnan at full-back as the Law Society repeatedly infringed after the tackle. Mark Breen used these penalties to kick to the left hand corner. In the first quarter we visited the Law Society lines four times, but came away with no points; while in the same period the Law Society had three visits to our lines and came away with 21 points. Two of their tries were fortunate for them (and unlucky for us), the second coming after we had had a clean heel but the ball shot out of the scrum for their scrum half to score, and the third coming from an unwise decision to run the ball in our own 22. Sadly we turned around for the second half some 33 points down.
Despite the leaky scoreline, there were several positive features in the first half, notably the return to the WOBS after a one year absence of a rejuvenated Adam Williams who inspired the team with his commitment to the contact and his inspirational (but sometimes undecipherable) speeches throughout the game. Adam was joined in some powerful charges by Ed Rayfield and James Madsen until James was side-lined with a damaged knee. Half-backs James Taylor and Mark Breen quickly developed a good understanding, with James releasing a series of quick long passes to Mark taking the ball at full tilt to give some much needed momentum to the backs. Defensively there was a lot of hard tackling to be done in the forwards, and the backs were just as good with Dom Rollo-Walker tight in midfield, while Ben produced a series of last ditch try-saving tackles – including a stunning cross field run to cut off the Law Society left wing two metres from the corner, which must rank as the best tackle of the season. Wingers Ollie and Ozzy surprisingly got little good ball but joined the defensive effort, each covering the other’s wing on more than one occasion.
But the WOBS had some serious problems to contend with – not least an opposing front row which dwarfed our line-up of Giles Heather, Marco Boodramsingh and Jack Bodkin by some 15 stone, including a monster of a tight head who must have exceeded 20 stone. As well as having troubles in the set-piece scrums our line-out was suffering, with the result that the only ball we could get was won in the loose – where as usual Tony Riley was supreme. So supreme was Tony in fact that three pairs of shorts were required to contain him – as our opponents repeatedly tried to rip his clothing in their attempts to stop his spinning charges. Unfortunately, we had troubles with our chat to the ref which led to some reversals of decisions, and we also did not react well to the many niggles and off-the-ball incidents from our opponents.
Nevertheless, the WOBS gamely stuck to their task in the second half to score two good tries and a penalty, while Stu Garratt was unlucky not to score after making a clean break. Our own 20-stoner Simon Jukes had a solid game too, and the two Rob subs Cottrell and Rooney filled the gaps round the pitch, as the players were rotated for breathers, with Rooney Rob doing some useful work in the loose in the unaccustomed position of flanker. Unfortunately the try-leaking continued as the Law Society showed what could be done by following up a pop-pass from a tackled midfield runner, and five more tries were conceded as exhaustion set in.
Lots to learn from this game and from the season in general – about the need for fitness as well as flair, and about the need for Commitment, not just on the pitch but to the whole team effort. This includes the simple steps of not calling off late in the week and making sure you get to the ground on time. These latter two faults emerged again this week and did much to unsettle the team on the day. It’s fairly simple stuff to remedy….so let’s do something about it.
Saturday 23rd March: WOBS 29 Old Tonbridgians 52.
Skipper Jack Bodkin calmly
exhorted the boys to keep their heads for the second half, with the
advantage of the slope, and for once the half-time strategy worked as
the WOBS piled on the pressure early on and quickly recovered to
15-33. At this point the Tonbridgians were flustered and it
looked likely that the WOBS would continue to score when a couple of
breakaway tries gave OT’s a healthy lead again. From then on, it
was tit-for-tat on tries and we finished the game at 29-52….with the
small consolation of winning the second half 26-22.
The WOBS forwards were superb throughout, with the back row of Alex Podbury, Tony Riley and Jack Bodkin dominating the game, and earning the greatest respect from our opponents. Tony Riley was at his magnificent best winning turnover ball consistently, and on two occasions taking a short penalty to drive and spin his way through a sea of Tonbridgian forwards to score. Andrei Kanchelskis at hooker acted as a fourth back row player, leading many breaks and drives, and he too was rewarded with a try. The referee awarded a fourth try on his scorecard to ANO, which we have credited to Tony for an earlier clear try which was disallowed at the time. The front row of Giles Heather, Andrei and Peter Osborne held their own in the set-pieces going up the hill, and were then in command for the second half. Behind them Simon Jukes and Xavi Bottino provided good strength and technique. Xavi showed his true form with some block-busting charges in the loose – including one effort which bowled over two attempting tacklers simultaneously.
Behind the scrum we had three late reinforcements to the side: Ben Calnan, Jamie Bruce and an injured Nick Hopkins on the bench. Jamie was his usual hustling self, directing the forwards’ attacks well and giving good ball to James Taylor, having his first game at number 10 with the WOBS. James started with a mazy run through the OT defence and kicked well throughout. Centres Mat Denarnaud and Adam Braverman had a difficult time coping with the direct running of the Tonbridgian backs. Mat was hampered with an injured shoulder, while Adam seemed off-colour for much of the game, until he delivered a memorable (and multiple!) technicolour yawn close to the end. Kevin Danagher was effective at fullback, advancing to the centres later in the game, when Nick took the field at 15 to provide a safe pair of hands for the high balls from OTs and some powerful runs into the forwards to set up good ball for the WOBS. Ozzy Idemudia and Ben Calnan on the wings did a lot of running, and had a great deal of defensive work to do.
Man of the Match was certainly
Tony Riley, with Andrei contending strongly as well for this
award. It’s been a tough season for the WOBS, with some
unfortunate narrow defeats, but this game is certainly one which the
boys can remember with pride. It’s never too late to learn, but
if we could simply cut out the early errors and loose play – and
remember to kick for territory before starting our attacks – we could
well be looking back on a more successful season. After the game,
our opponents expressed their collective surprise that the WOBS could
be in difficulties in the League. Let’s learn from these games
and make sure we are never in this position again.
Saturday 9th March: Old Emanuel 35 WOBS 15
What a pity! The WOBS lost the game on Saturday, and with it went the slim chance of staying in Surrey 2 for next season. Now our only hope is a technical reprieve, such as a points deduction from one of the others teams in the League – but this is hardly likely now at this end of the season.
In many ways the Emanuel game was
a reprise of our earlier games in the season. Put simply, we
started badly with several handling errors and a general lack of
cohesion and commitment; after a third of the game had gone, we came
back strongly; but we then lost momentum in the face of a couple of
unfortunate bounces of the ball, finally finishing strongly. This
season has taught us that it is the simple errors – of passing &
handling and lack of discipline in the ruck and mauls – which have cost
us the most. And it goes without saying, that we play better when
we have a settled team, and play a simple game, looking after the
ball. Pick and Go is our strong point, and on our day we cannot
be stopped with this tactic – but it has not always been used to best
effect in the heat of the match situation.
Within 20 minutes we were a full 16 points down, due to three unnecessary early penalties and a soft try. The WOBS simply did not have the same urgency and drive as our opponents at this stage, and our handling in the wet conditions was not good. A fracas on the half-way line, after the OE fullback had tried to grind Braverman’s face into the mud, seemed to spark a new intensity from the WOBS and for the remainder of the half we systematically starved Emanuel of the ball, eventually grinding our way to the line with a perfectly executed series of, you guessed it, Pick and Go’s from our now rampant forwards.
With this score the WOBS reached 5-16 down at half time, and things were starting to go well for us. The forwards were working well as a unit, and Jack Bodkin, James Madsen, Giles Heather and Andy Thick were prominent in the steady flow of Pick and Go’s which were bringing us back into the game. The backs were tighter now defensively, with Nick Hopkins and Adam Braverman making a string of good midfield tackles, and the kicking for territory by Mark and later on by Nick was more effective in the second half. Unfortunately, the Emanuel kicks were proving to be even more effective than ours, and a couple of unlucky bounces allowed OE’s two soft tries in our left corner, which dampened our revival considerably. To the WOBS’ great credit, our heads did not go down in the fourth quarter of the game, as we resumed our Pick and Go tactics around the mauls, and the team was rewarded with a penalty and a second try. By this stage though injuries were increasing, with first James and then Mark and Chris Brown taking painful knocks. Nevertheless, we maintained our form and the final score of 15-35 showed us just how close the game would have been if we had managed more discipline and drive in the early part of the game.
We now have two league games left this difficult season. The final two teams we face (Old Tonbridgians and Law Society) are well placed in the League Table, but they were both lucky to defeat us in the first round of games – so we now have the opportunity to reverse these results and restore our pride.
Up the WOBS!
“WOBS keep their mathematical chances of survival alive.”
The WOBS at last gained the result they deserved with a narrow 13-10 victory over Old Rutlishians on Saturday. We started with real precision with a couple of driving mauls which took us close to the Ruts’ line, to allow Riley to score an excellent forwards’ try. And soon after we were 8 nil up, thanks to the trusty boot of Nick Hopkins. Quite frankly, at this point the WOBS were heading for a comfortable victory when, following a collision in the line-out, our key jumper Richard Brown was keen to leave the field and, in true Monty-Pythonesque fashion, he insisted that the melon sized swelling that had replaced his ankle was “only a flesh wound” and “it’ll go down in a few minutes if I just run it off”. Fortunately he was restrained, and Richard saved his ankle from further damage.
The bad news was that the WOBS line-out did not recover from this set-back with the result that the Rutlishians clawed their way back into the game with the extra possession they got from the remaining line-outs of the game. The last 15 minutes of the first half saw the WOBS pinned to our own line, repelling wave after wave of somewhat clumsy attacks from our opponents and, to the great credit of the team, we held the score at 8-0, even while missing a yellow-carded forward.
In this phase and in the second half as well, the forwards were tremendous with Daniele Manzi, returning from a year-long break, filling in magnificently at prop when Ben Forbes was forced to take up second row duties. The front row was solid against the expected heavier opposition, with Giles rampant in attack, and Andrei very effective in the loose, leading a stunning 30 metre driving maul midway through the second half, accompanied by Giles and Ed Rayfield, which should have led to try. Our back row of Riley Bodkin and Rayfield was as effective as usual, while Jukes had some good charges in the loose, as well as providing much-needed solidity to our set piece scrums.
The big change for the WOBS was
that our backs started to click in this game, marshalled in the first
half by Hopkins and then by Mark Breen in the second half. Kevin
Danagher popped up all over the place, including a mazy run down the
right which started with a through the legs pass from Mark and finished
just in front of their posts, but unfortunately the final pass from the
exhausted speedster did not go to hand. Chris Brown had flashes
of real pace, and once again newcomer Ollie Walker shone with a great
clearance kick and several good runs including a super try after a nice
blind side break on the half way line from scrum half Ollie to fullback
to wing. Between these attacks there was lot of defending for the WOBS
to do, with centres Adam and Chris, then James taking their full share
of tackling duties.
After the disappointments of several losing close finishes this season it was certainly time that the WOBS won one of these close encounters – and the team heaved a collective sigh (or rather roar) of relief when the final whistle blew to announce our victory. There remains the “slimmest mathematical chance of survival” in this League, but first we have to defeat Old Emanuel on 9th March. This means we need a strong team for that day with everybody making themselves available to play – and maybe we will get the win and the extra bonus point we need to keep our hopes alive.
A slightly subdued WOBS team took the field on Saturday, and as a result we had an indifferent start.
Eventually we broke through after
some good forward pressure allowed Chris Brown, who was looking
dangerous in the outside centre role, to power through on the blind
side for an unstoppable try.
Unfortunately the WOBS revival was short lived, as a mis-field on our 22 donated Bec a second easy try, to give them a half time lead of 14-5.
The second half for the WOBS,
playing down the field, was a different matter altogether. After
repelling a good Bec attack on our right touch-line only to concede an
unnecessary penalty, we settled in and started playing with more spirit
and fluidity – and from that point on the WOBS spent the rest of the
game in the Bec half. Despite some scrappy play, where the
referee allowed countless Bec infringements in the loose play and
lengthy rests for their overweight prop, our forwards started to
dominate, with Giles Heather doing the hard yards with some heavy duty
charges, while Simon Jukes added stability to the scrum. The WOBS
secured several important turn-overs, largely due to the smother
tackles of Tony Riley, who was making a welcome return to the WOBS, and
it was fitting that Tony should bring us back into the game with a
burst to the line after some great mauling from the forwards.
12-17 to Bec.
With both sides tiring, and errors multiplying, it still looked likely that the WOBS would score. A superb deep kick into the corner from scrum half James forced Bec to make an error on the line, to give tireless Tony a second try, and we were level at 17 all, with 8 minutes left to win the game.
Still the WOBS looked the better team, but an innocuous loose ball from a ruck was adjudged a penalty by the referee, and the WOBS suffered the heartache (as against Tonbridgians in December) of seeing their victory dissolve with a late long-distance penalty. With a minute left the WOBS were unable to coordinate a decent attack and ended the game 17-20 down. A bonus point was no consolation for this missed opportunity.
All three new players, Jack,
Oliver and Ossie made an impact – with Oliver showing some glimpses of
real class, and Ossie having a good run through the opposing forwards
with his first touch of the ball. But Jack was the most
influential, having a great game filling in at scrum half with some
quick and accurate passes to keep the backs moving well throughout the
The Man-of-the-Match award
undoubtedly goes to Tony Riley, who was immense in the loose play, and
showed his WOBS commitment by persuading four others to come to the
game, when numbers declined during the week due to injuries and late
call-offs. Thanks Tony. Let’s finish the job this coming
Saturday against Old Rutlishians.
Saturday 26th January: Streatham/Croydon 24 WOBS 8
Sir Clive Woodward was always
going on about getting the percentages right… and certainly the WOBS
could learn a lot from Sir Clive’s approach. Before we go to the
actual game, let’s just look at the percentages for one thing only:
AVAILABILITY……and ask yourself the following Questions:
Do I make sure that I don’t change this?
All simple stuff really, and I can
guarantee that if everyone had done these simple things this week, the
WOBS would be 4 or 5 points better off this week-end in the League
In spite of enormous problems getting a team together, the 16 who took the field on Saturday were determined to give their all, and the WOBS started extremely well. Although completely out-weighted by Streatham, our forwards soon established control – due to some superb line-out play. Andrei Kanchelskis delivered throws to Dan and Richard in the line with pin-point accuracy and, somehow, the WOBS were contriving to win our opponents’ line-outs too, due to some great steals from Dan and some superb mauling from Giles, Xavi, Peter and Ed. All the forwards in fact.
Barnaby provided much needed weight to the set pieces, and behind the scrum too we were solid, with the new combo of Jamie Bruce and Mark Breen soon clicking into gear, with some long and accurate passes from Brucie and some intelligent and effective line kicking by Mark at 10. The omens looked particularly good for the WOBS when the two clear breaks made by Streatham were snuffed out by two devastating defensive tackles from Giuliano. At half time we had a deserved 8-0 lead due to a well-stuck penalty from Mark and a text-book driving maul following a line-out after a penalty kick to the corner.
The second half saw a different Streatham as their forwards roughed it up with some off the ball scuffles. The WOBS composed themselves at first but we were caught out with no defensive line, which allowed our opponents an easy try in the corner, which raised their game. Then followed a dubious decision from the referee which allowed Streatham a quick line-out after the ball had bounced off the roof of the stands…! Unfortunately at that point our composure dissolved into grumbling and then we suffered a double injury as our match-winner Dan Pring was led from the field with damaged shoulder ligaments and Xavi was incapacitated with a twisted knee. With only an injured sub to use, we were down to 13 and a half players, and we did well to restrict Streatham just to 2 tries in the last 15 minutes. We even created chances ourselves and were unlucky not to pinch a try ourselves in that period.
Man of the Match, as hinted above, was Dan who was immense in the tight and also in the loose play with some skilful side-steps and spins. We will miss Dan greatly in our next games, and wish him a speedy recovery. Mark Breen’s return to the WOBS was a great success, with some silky running and stout defensive tackles to match his excellent distribution and kicking. Further out there was slick handling in the centres and Rob Rooney had a series of good runs, and often brought the play back to the WOBS forwards. An effervescent Brucie had a big influence on the game, marshalling all his forwards into some top performances, until the forwards simply ran out of steam in the 4th quarter. In the absence of Jack who was stuck at work, Alex Podbury led the team well, by word and by example across the field.
So where were our missing percentages this week, Sir Clive?
Tough times ahead – as we will be looking for 4 wins out of 5.
Sat 5th Jan 2013: Chipstead 29 WOBS 0
2.) For once, our second half performance was strong. This was clear by the amount of penalties the ref gave against the opposition in the last twenty minutes. Through the pressure we put on Chipstead, they must have given away at least 6 penalties in the last ten minutes.
3.) The Lineout was strong with Pods throwing in and Pringo and Pete often disrupting Chipstead’s lineout.
4.) Apart from
one lapse in defence where their centre managed to step his way through
a number of tackles, our tackling was solid throughout.
Sat 15th December: Old Tonbridgians 19 WOBS 18
(M Williams 2T. Hopkins 2P, 1C.)
Bolstered by reinforcements from the Universities, the WOBS put out a strong team for the match against arch-rivals Tonbridgians – who incidentally had never beaten the WOBS in the League. The WOBS dominated the first half with a rock-solid front row of Giles Heather, Andy Thick and young Alex Neville-Smith who had a fine debut game. The intensity of our forward play unsettled our opponents, allowing Frankie to pick up a loose ball in midfield and go on a trademark run down the left wing to the corner – and then round to score under the posts. A well struck penalty gave us a comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter. After conceding a penalty, we increased the pressure with a superb winger’s try on the right, with the ball whipping down the line to speedster Chris Brown, who was felled 5 metres short of the line, but still managed to deliver a perfect pop pass to Frankie who had looped across the pitch remarkably to poach the corner-flag score. The forwards remained untroubled by the increasingly aggressive Tonbridge pack, with James Madsen and Andy Thick always making ground in the close quarter encounters, to turn around 15-3 ahead at half time.
The second half was, sorry to say, a different game. The Tonbridgians flew out of the blocks with an early try, followed by a penalty to come closer at 11-15. Our defences were good with some hard tackling to be done by the back row and centres – where Alex Podbury playing at the unaccustomed position of 12 was outstanding in repeatedly bringing down two very speedy and skilful opposing centres. But we made life difficult for ourselves with short clearances into a difficult wind, and a couple of loose kick-offs. The WOBS were firmly on the back foot for 25 minutes, eventually conceding a soft second try and with it the lead, to go behind 15-16.
At last the WOBS recovered by the simple expedient of kicking deep. On our second visit to the OTs half we were awarded a penalty which Nick Hopkins safely slotted to take the lead again. With only 5 minutes to hold on to a fragile 18-16 advantage, the WOBS defended magnificently and would surely have deserved to hear a triumphant final whistle – but unfortunately the referee blew for a penalty, and then added 10 metres, to bring the OTs in range (35 metres) for a tricky kick at goal. The jubilation of our opponents as the ball flew between our posts, with the referee calling full time, was a sad indicator that this game could and should have been ours.
Our position in the League is now dire – with everything to be done in the second half of the season to save the Club from relegation: at least 4 victories need to be found. However, on the positive side, there are real indications now that the WOBS have rediscovered their determination and form (but not yet quite their full fitness). The spirit of the team is remarkable high, and the application on the pitch has doubled. We still need to eliminate completely the dozy lapses which seem to occur after half time. And as skipper Jack mentioned after the game, we need to keep the same group of players available week-in week-out if we are to return to winning ways.
Owen at 9 had another strong game, and both wings were dangerous with
the ball. Burbidge, Bayles and Bodkin all gave the team great
forward momentum, and substitute Peter Osborne proved his versatility
at prop, lock and jumping in the line. Man of the Match goes most
certainly to Alex Podbury, but a big thank you also goes to Ben Calnan
as non-playing sub – and to Giles Sacarello who played with the
Sat 3rd November: WOBS 17 Old Rutlishians 33
(M Williams 2T, Pring 1T. Hopkins 1C)
Saturday 27th October: Bec Old Boys 55 WOBS 9
(Hopkins 3 pens)
Alan Hansen said of Southampton during Sunday night’s Match of the Day 2: “They’ve got a long hard trek to get out of the relegation zone….”
…. And yes, Alan might well have said the same thing about the WOBS after their 5th successive League defeat, with just 2 bonus points to show for their season’s efforts to date.
The match report for Saturday’s game against Bec need not be a lengthy one this week. Just two lessons to be learnt:
We need to play as a team – which means we need to train together, and
play together. And that means having the core team the same on a
game demonstrated the latter point clearly when we took an early 3
point advantage and then immediately handed back the lead after a
knock-on and penalty from the resulting kick-off. A few minutes
later we conceded two soft tries – to surrender the initiative entirely
to our grateful opponents.
But as in previous weeks, the WOBS could not maintain a steady level of application across the whole team for the full 80 minutes. Having said that, there were several strong individual performances. Giles Heather back from a serious hand injury was his normal feisty self, new prop Ben Forbes gave stability to the WOBS scrums, and Alex led by example as usual. Our two top-class wings Frankie Williams and Chris Brown showed glimpses of their capabilities on the few occasions they received the ball; while both Browns showed good technique in counter-rucking successfully after the WOBS had lost the ball in dangerous situations. Adam Braverman had a superb game tackling the Armada of pacey Bec backs, including a very elusive opposing number 12; and Warwick Symcox did everything right at scrum half, delivering good clean ball to the WOBS backs. But the Man-of-the-Match performance this week has to go to Dan Pring who relished his return to the team for a full game with a spirited display of loose forward play – setting the example to the pack with his text-book defensive work at close quarters against wave after wave of charges from the Bec forwards.
But we simply cannot win on just a few individual performances, and the good work needs to be sustained by the whole team for the full 80 minutes if the WOBS are to have any success in their trek out of the relegation zone. So let’s get Training together – and let’s get a stable and committed team playing together week on week.
Saturday 13th October: Kingston 29 WOBS 3
(Penalty: R Garratt)
It’s not very often that one can be encouraged by a 3-29 defeat, particularly as this result made it four defeats on the trot, but this was an unusual game with a remarkable and spirited performance by the WOBS.
The day started on a sombre note with a one-minute silence in memory of Glenn Robertson – President of WOBS RFC since our foundation in 1993, who sadly died on 8th October – but the WOBS were well up for this game and the mood in the WOBS camp was quietly determined. The squad was still suffering from a serious number of injuries but had called on reinforcements from around the country, from Exeter and Coventry to be precise, to line up with a youthful team with an average age of 23 in the forwards.
We had a slow start playing down the hill, but soon secured a 3 point lead from the boot of Rory Garratt. Unfortunately two further penalties were missed and Kingston grabbed two tries to make the half time score 3-12 down. Encouragingly, the forwards were achieving parity in the set pieces, with the steady front row of Marco, Andy Thick and debutant prop Ben Forbes – ably supported by a solid pairing of Peter Osborne and Barnaby Smith in the Row. The back row had pace, with man-of-the-match Nick Elvidge covering all corners of the pitch, a feisty Dave Morris and Xavi Bottino making his debut appearance at number 8. The line-outs went well on our own throw-in, with Nick winning some excellent possession – but we couldn’t match Kingston at 4 in the line-out which gave our opponents too much easy ball. Faced with the prospect of a steep hill in the second half, the WOBS found a couple of extra gears and piled on the pressure in the third quarter, pressing the Kingston line for long periods. In the backs, Rory and Adam were solid in defence – with Adam taking the lion’s share of heavy tackles, while Kevin returned to form with some sizzling runs from full-back. Our only error, and it was a critical one, was our inability to convert good scoring opportunities into tries.
As the game entered the final minutes, the WOBS threw everything into attack, to give themselves a chance of turning the game right up to the last 10 minutes, before allowing Kingston the relief of scoring a couple of very late tries, and with them 14 points. The final scoreline of 3-29 does not reflect the game accurately and afterwards our opponents expressed their surprise at the closeness of the contest – something that the team currently 3rd in Surrey 1 were certainly not expecting from a team lying 3rd from bottom in Surrey 2.
With our Cup run now over, it’s
time to sort out our League deficiencies – and to convert our patches
of good play into some solid league results from a settled team.
Coach Ben Hodd, who must take great credit for getting the squad to
click on Saturday, had just one comment at the end of the game.
Come to training. And he’s serious boys. It’s plain for all to
see on the touchline that the WOBS have some real talent, but we simply
don’t know each other well enough to play together as a team.
Sat 6th October: Battersea Ironsides 62 WOBS 7
Saturday 29th Sept: WOBS 5 Chipstead 52
Saturday 22nd Sept: WOBS 13 Law Society 19
The WOBS had an excellent squad out for the first League game of the season – and were well prepared for this game. After a lively warm-up, carried out under the direction of our new coach, Ben Hodd, we had a good start. We were solid up front, as expected, and we also seemed to have the better of our opponents in the backs – stifling the Law Society attacks with ease, due to good defensive lines and strong tackling from Adam Braverman and Rory Garatt in the centres.
Things looked good for us in the first half, as a fine handling movement through forwards and backs on the left wing gave Frankie just enough space to charge through for a strong try. A second try soon followed, when Ed Hackett took a quick penalty to power over the line – but the warning signs of a decline were already showing. Skipper Bodkin had left the field with a badly damaged shoulder, and further injuries were sustained in the second half – as Chris Madsen and Giles Heather also damaged their shoulders. And later on Andy Bayles completed the catalogue of injuries with a popped rib. Most tellingly, the Law Society grabbed a morale-boosting try at half time, reducing our lead to a modest 10-5 at the break.
So how did the game slip away from us? Of course the injuries were crucial to reducing our power and breaking down the team cohesion. But perhaps we should have not been in this situation at all. The WOBS unwisely chose to continue to take on the Law Society up front in the second half, when swinging the ball wide – where we clearly had the advantage in the speed of our back 3 – would have been a far more effective, and simpler, strategy. We leaked 2 converted tries midway through the second half to find ourselves behind at 10-19 with little time left on the clock. To the WOBS’ great credit, we did eventually adjust our game-plan – first by taking a simple penalty to get in range at 13-19, and then following this with several minutes of expansive and exciting rugby. The final phase of the game saw the WOBS run the ball through a dozen sets of hands, forwards combining effortlessly with backs, to take us to within 10 metres of the try-line when the referee blew for full time.
As for those important
learning points…..we certainly made the improvements to our defensive
lines which had troubled us in the Cup game, but there is still
evidence of unnecessary penalties, plus unfortunately that old WOBS
complaint has returned – too much talking and complaining off the ball.
This needs to stop.
This was a game which should
not have been lost. This is a tough league where we cannot afford
to drop points. But if we can keep this squad playing regularly
through the season, then we should do well in the League. In the
meanwhile, we need all hands on deck for the coming league fixtures.
FRIENDLY - SAT 3RD SEPT vs KINGSTON
final scoreboard of the “training game” of 4 quarters shows that the 29
players of Surrey 1 Kingston RFC beat the 22 players of the WOBS by two
tries to one (12-7)….. but this was our game to win in, with superior
fitness, speed and fire….but unfortunately not in weight.
Reporter - Des Calnan
WORTH OLD BOYS' SOCIETY RFC - THE 2008/2009 SEASON
vs Merton RFC - W 14-3 (21 March 2009)
WOBS vs Merton - W 34-13 (15 Nov 2008)
Gentlemen of WOBS - I salute you on the magnificent win against Merton on Saturday.
Turning up at Whitely Village the mighty WOBS were the epitome of focused, a finely tuned group of elite players with one common goal......the destruction of Merton. A less determined bunch would have been flustered by the early kick off, insecure about only having 15 men and worried that the opposition had beaten both Haslemere and Streatham Croydon whom had caused difficulties in the past. But not the WOBS - nay, this was a team fired up, quivering with adrenaline and an impatience to fly into their opposite numbers.
As a 19 strong oppo arrogantly smirked at the 15 WOBS warming up they only served to fuel our resolve. The whistle was blown and with the WOBS having won the toss we kicked deep and high into the Merton half. A crunching 5 minutes ensued with a wall of Blue and Gold stopping each attempt to gain ground. A crunching double hit from Alex Podbury going low and Chris Madsen going high to floor a charging number 8 set the tone. The message was clear, Merton were at our home ground and it was the WOBS who were to dictate the play.....and that's exactly what we did.
The first half proved a great display of grit as the boys continued to make crunching hits all over the park. The scrum sat solid as a rock, decimating Merton's forwards on every one of their put ins. A flag was hammered in at every breakdown as the WOBS claimed ownership in the back row and the backs made light work of constantly testing their opposite numbers as the team ran, rucked, mauled and drove its way up the pitch.
When the half time whistle was finally blown a beat up Merton looked as if they'd played all they could play, while 30 yards away a different picture was painted as we grabbed shirts and huddled in, focused and knowing exactly what was needed in the second half. After a short water guzzle a disbanded opposition trudged back on to the pitch to the sound of 15 closely grouped boys triumphantly bellowing out "WOBS" before turning to receive the kick.
The second half was to test us more than the first, and as a natural tiredness crept across the team the time for digging in was clearly noted. A few early mistakes gave Merton a lucky try to add to their two penalty kicks in the first 40 minutes and served as a quick reminder of the job that was required of each of us. At this point a unanimous decision was made by all that no breakdown was to be lost, no tackle missed and no charging run to be taken at less that 100%.
With two well worked tries in each of the Merton corners the WOBS were starting dominate, playing some of the best supporting rugby we've seen. The game finished a brilliant win at 34-13 and it proved just how well we can play when the chips are down.
As a side note boys, Saturday's game was the first time in a while we've played with a set structure in what we want to achieve, deciding before the KO what we wanted to do with the ball when in our 22, what we wanted to do with the ball when in their half. All of this allowed us to create a game plan to stick to giving us a real advantage. It was recognising that Merton were knackered in the second half that led to the decision to pick and go off the back of the ruck 3 or 4 times before spinning a backs phase, and then doing the same thing again on the other side of the paddock. This structure meant we all knew exactly what we needed to do, where we needed to be and what was happening next which was not only upped our intensity but was absolutely invaluable in focusing the team.
Saturday was a really great effort from everybody.........WELL DONE LADS!!!
This weekend we play London Exiles at HOME. Lets hit Saturday with exactly the same attitude, focused from arrival and disciplined throughout the warm-up ready to start a game that we should be easily winning.
Ding ding............Round 4.
WOBS vs Old Reigatians RFC (League) - W 48-17
on from the previous week's win against Old Paulines in a last minute
friendly, the boys in blue and gold were in high spirits arriving for
our third league game of the season and a must win following two defeats.
Great effort all round boys.
WOBS vs Old Paulines RFC (Friendly) - W 34-23
What started out to be a Cup game was quickly changed on Friday following the NOMADS RFC pulling out with their tails between their legs. So, forfeiting the game the NOMADS bowed down to let the WOBS progress to the third round. Despite the possibility of a free Saturday up in the air, the boys showed their eagerness for rumble round the park and joined eachother at the Old Paulines RFC ground to teach them the bosh. Well done boys as this provided valuable and much needed game time for us before our third league game next week.
Following your Captain picking a fight with a car during last week – I didn't like the colour – Ed GS led the team out proving once again that not everybody on SAGA holidays is physically challenged - good work Grandad.
The day was another scorcher with the sun beating down on the boys from the get go. From the whistle the OP's brought the game to us with a pinch of cockiness, testing the WOBS' defense around the fringes, doing their best to disrupt the breakdown and proving to have a few competent running backs.
Despite having a mobile pack we were caught by surprise by the sprightly OP's in the first 20 minutes as they pushed us around the park and back, constantly putting the pressure on and winning some early penalties, awarded by a Referee most definitely born in the middle ages. 13-0 down, a few more very dubious decisions and an opposition that tried every dodgy trick in the book at the breakdown, the WOBS dug deep, gritted their teeth and started to play the sort the rugby we've seen in the last few seasons' big wins.
The backs quashed an arrogance from the opposition that should never have been allowed to show its face, shifting the ball well and showing to have the confidence to take the game to them on every running move. While Ed GS kept the pressure up in the number 10 jersey, Cottrell provided some solid play in the centres, pulling out some magical lines for the OP's to stand and marvel at. Tommy "The Rock" Fagg put the side at ease on the wing, constantly covering the angles in defense by showing that no attacker was too big for him, while running the ball into the opposition as if he were an 18 stone second row. Unfortunately for him and for us, Tommy ended the game with a dislocated his shoulder, however he did so in a try saving tackle and definitely won the respect of the men.
The next 20 minutes saw the WOBS put the points on the board, taking the game to 17-13 through a combination of some big impact play from the pack and some fast running by the backs. Special mention to Joe Green and Dom Mabbs who both turned up to play despite having shoulder injuries. Dom put this behind him to remain solid in the centre outside Rob, as did Joe in the second row and the line outs, bringing the bulk that we definitely required. Nice one lads.
The second half was a true testament to the superior fitness levels of WOBS as through an awesome display of support play the team shifted the ball up the park proving themselves way too much for the OP's to handle. Jamie Bruce exhausted his opposite number as the Duracell Bunny never once stopped running from start to finish as the game was taken into high scores.
The increasing heat and intensity of the game was matched with the rapidly dropping levels of fitness, banter and attacking presence from the OP's. By the 50th minute the WOBS had overwhelmed them and as their spirits slipped we took full advantage. James Burt made boshing an art form, with his trade mark 10 meter run after 10 meter run off the back of rucks and scrums, taking three guys on each run to take him down. Tom Lewis and Phil Myles were in support on every press, both making a number of storming breaks. Myles popped up everywhere in support and had one of his best games in both attack and defense, being awarded the man of the match prize. This was highly deserved by Phil and he proved so again after the game when he beat the OP's man of the match in a downing contest, eating his pint to retain WOBS' reputation in front of all teams playing on the day – good lad Phil - bit of pint-pie visualization was there fatty?? - we love you for it!
The match finished 34-23 to the WOBS and was a great display of grit in intense heat against an opposition that put the pressure on thick and fast in the opening quarter.
mention to our try scorers: Ed GS, Rob Cottrell, Dan Pring and Danny O'Connell.
6 September 2008 - WOBS vs Midhurst - W 26-3
The back line showed an impressive flare for the opening game of the season, with Ed Bishop and Paddy Forbes controlling the pack at 9. Tom Calnan provided the play at 10, with Rob Cottrell and Andrew Slater teaming up in the centres to see Slats start his season try fest with a hat-trick! Lee Howard brought his dancing shoes with him at 15, making his counter attacks look effortless has he brought the game back up the field against all their kicks. Mark Wilson, Giordi Cupuano and Ben Holloway provided great support in the backs, each proving to be formidable runners on the ball. For a first run out the result was bang on lads so great effort.
7 September - WOBS vs Young Old Boys (YB)
Dan Mourad took command of the pack at 9, controlling the 'inch' game and steering the pack as we rolled and knocked our way up the park. Tom Calnan took the number 10 shoes, heroically shrugging off an injured shoulder from the day before with Mark Wilson and Ben Calnan stepping into the centres. Ed Gordon-Stewart gave the team its safety net at 15 as he marked each of the kicks over the top, showing that despite being older the Jesus he can still counter with the rest of them. Chris Jackson supported the back row as well as the centres in the second half remaining his usual solid as a rock self in attack and defence. Rob Rooney, Mark Proctor and even the Silver Fox Des Calnan also showed their worth in the backs, joining the team to dig deep in the second half!
The YB gave a great performance and provided us with a game that took things right to the wire. At 19-17 in favour of the WOBS, the last 5 minutes saw the YB take a try, worked across the pitch and touched down in the corner, pushing the score to 19-22 with just a few minutes to go. With 30 seconds left on the clock we found ourselves camped under their posts with a penalty kick. Being told by the ref that we would only have one last play the WOBS took the decision to kick for the corner and once more take it to them, showing that despite the previous days game and night on the tiles we had no intention of packing up and giving in!! A final push saw a great effort for the YB to defend their line and the ball being buried in the confusion. The final whistle was blown and a weekend of rugby was concluded.
Thank you very much to the YB team for a great day yesterday and we look forward playing with those of you who join the coveted WOBS ranks in the future.
WORTH OLD BOYS' SOCIETY RFC - THE 2006/2007 SEASON
Chairman, Des Calnan has reviewed the 2004-2005 season and reflected on
the club's progress over the past twelve months.
For the musical review of the 2004-2005 season results, please click here. Music supplied by D. Brent
4th November: WOBS 12 Raynes Park 22.
A third defeat in a row out of 5 league games looks like a bad result for the WOBS, and indeed when we fell behind 17-0 within the first quarter of the match the prospects of a good performance did not look great at all…but this game turned out to be a great effort from the WOBS - but for only 3 quarters of the game, unfortunately.
Despite the exhortations from new skipper Tom Calnan not to concede an early score - amplified but some inspiring invective from Richard Hammond leading the pack with real passion - the WOBS did exactly what their leaders feared, leaking a soft try within minutes of the start. We quickly fell further behind to find ourselves uncomfortably 17-0 in arrears, but the second and third tries had come from unforced errors on our own attacks, so the optimist could just see some positive signals and the prospect of something better to come. By this point the backs had settled and were operating well in defence as well as in attack, with Jamie combining well with "the new number 10" for the week, the ever-versatile Lee Howard, who distributed well and made some crucial defensive clearances. Although under pressure in the scrums, the forwards were having a good day and the WOBS suddenly noticed that they were winning at least 90% of all line-out ball, with Tom Lewis dominating as usual at the front - while Salmon Hammon' was leaping quite brilliantly at number 4. Hammond was winning the ball almost at will, most notably when hooker Holloway (clearly making an early and highly innovative bid for the pink fluffy cushion) inexplicably insisted on announcing to our opponents his intention to throw the ball to number 4. After a period of intense pressure from the WOBS, the breakthrough came just before half-time when Phil Symonds made another powerful charge to break through the Park defences to make the score a morale-boosting 7-17 at the changeover.
The second half was all about attack from the WOBS, with only the scrums not going our way. Some fine tackling from the midfield trio of Lee, Mark and Ben swung the game the WOBS way, with Ben relishing his 80 minutes in the coveted number 13 shirt with some fearless tackling, eventually wearing out the very dangerous outside centre opposite him. A wave of attacks by the WOBS led to a maul on the right, and the loose ball was snapped up by Ben to score easily in the corner. It was now 12-17 and the WOBS' tails were up. The pressure continued, but repeated breakdowns led to a sequence of scrums which allowed the Park to recover. In a frenzied last ten minutes both teams made a series of errors, but unluckily it was the WOBS who were punished, conceding a late try during the only visit made by Raynes Park to our 22 in the second half. It was good to see Richard Saunders back in the team, after his autumn wedding duties, and two Baybutts were spotted on the wings (presumably by Bill Oddie?). Ben's tireless tackling earned him the Man of the Match award, closely contended by Hammond for his text-book line-out display.
So sadly, on this occasion the WOBS got null points, despite performing well for a good three-quarters of the game. Let's try to remember this painful lesson and make a concerted effort to start our next League game the way finished this one - and get our season back on track next Saturday, away at Wandsworthians.
16th September: WOBS 10 Streatham & Croydon 33.
This was the WOBS first competitive game of the season - and the patchiness showed - but there were good signs for the future from this encouraging performance.
Plunged back unceremoniously into the Captain's role, Chris Jackson did a fine job of gathering in late arrivals, counting his props and electing a scrum half (or two?) - but we simply weren't ready for the 3 o'clock whistle. Notwithstanding this stuttering start, the WOBS immediately turned on some fine rugby and held Streatham well for the opening 20 minutes. In fact when our opponents kicked deep we looked the more dangerous team with a pacy back four of Adrian Pring Ben Calnan, Bertie and Kevin Danagher leading the counter-attacks. Against the balance of play we let in a couple of soft tries, but these setbacks brought out the best in the WOBS. For ten minutes either side of half-time, our forwards put their hearts into the game - securing a vital try just before the break, and repeating the act just after half-time to bring the WOBS strongly back into contention at 10-12 with 30 minutes to play.
The forwards had found their groove with Burt, Lewis and Jacko in control, aided by Hammond and Green holding things steady in the powerhouse. The front row of Taylor, Podbury and Colin were fine in the loose, but came under increasing pressure in the set pieces, and ominously Streatham were beginning to get all the possession and were running wide and skillfully. The fitness of the WOBS had now ebbed, so reinforcements were called in the form of Tom Calnan, making a welcome return after a long break from injury, and Pete and Chris but they could not help the flagging WOBS to hold back the Magenta wave that was Streatham. Even though Danagher was managing to step his way through the Streatham defence on several occasions, now the mistakes were coming from the WOBS and three tries were leaked to finish at 10-33, a score which did not fully reflect the struggle that had taken place.
A big thank you to our half-backs Tom Middleton and Nick Hopkins who kept the team together for the whole game. Nick made several powerful bursts from fly-half into some heavy opposition cover to secure good second phase for the WOBS, and kicked us out of trouble on numerous occasions. But the Man of the Match performance came from James Burt for an inspirational display of defensive and attacking Number 8 play.
Next week is our first League game, so let's all get to the game in good time to get our League campaign off to a flying start.
WORTH OLD BOYS SOCIETY RFC - THE 2005/2006 SEASON
Saturday 11th February: WOBS 88 Lightwater 7.
[Tries: C Baybutt 4, J Baybutt, Pollen, Holt, Edwards 2, Sanders 2, Hurley, Taylor, Mourad; Gordon-Steward 9C]
This was an easy game for the WOBS and provided us with a platform to restore confidence and consistency for the team, after the minor battering from Bec a fortnight before. Thirty-eight points playing down the home hill, followed by 50 playing uphill, with 14 tries in all was a much needed tonic for the team, and gave the team some statistics to savour.
The game started well for us with the first 20 minutes being a showcase of centre play – with Number 10 Ed G-S getting fast clean ball from Tom Holt deputizing at scrum half to allow the two centres to pick some fine running lines, Mark Wilson setting up ruck after ruck in text book fashion. The back row were in control from early on with Hugo back again close to his best form and Dan & Tom rampant in the loose. The front 5 were rock solid – with David Lewis combining well to provide the shove in an unaccustomed lock position with Hammond. Dean was back from an extended Christmas break to win the mauls and Will popped up in open play in the right place at the right time as usual. However it was skipper Carson who was the dominant force, securing all the high balls and making the hard yards for the team – as well as selflessly arranging for tries to be scored by his two worthy props. It was great also to see Rob, and others, regularly calling for and taking the inside pop ball from fly-half EG-S to give the WOBS other attacking options.
After establishing a comfortable lead in the first half, the backs had a field day with Charlie reminding all 30 players and spectators of his phenomenal pace, running in 4 tries, all from long range. “He’s as quick as Vasquez” someone said “but without the honking afterwards”, which just about summed it up. Brother James, moving to centre to replace the injured “Wheelchair” set up Pollen to run in an exciting mazy try, and then emulated Charlie with a long run in to score himself. It was good to see Ben Calnan back on the park again, opening the second half as sub with a good drive through the Lightwater forwards and finishing with a try-saving tackle while the rest of the backs were considering donating a consolation second try to their Lightwater chums.
The Man of the Match award was shared by Charlie and Rob for their impressive and contrasting performances – but the true Pink Fluffy Cushion moment was surely provided by Holty. Tom made a clean break from a scrum on the half-way line, only to decide that 50 metres was well beyond his sprinting powers – so he ran 45, then went to ground ‘like a hare to his holt’, losing two opposing tacklers in the process, and crawled the remaining 5 metres home to score, to a chorus of hopeful cries of “double movement, sir” from our forlorn Lightwater foes. Pure champagne, Tom!
22nd October: Worth Old Boys 18 Bec Old Boys 16
Captain Carson had exhorted his troops all week to be “up for it” for this enormous game against arch-rivals Bec OBs, and the WOBS did him proud on the day. Forget Chelsea v Man U or Brazil v Argentina; this was a clash of the Titans on a completely different scale, with bodies, careers and reputations on the line. As one supporter was heard to breathlessly whisper pre kick-off: “Yeah, it should be a pretty good game today…who are we playing again?”
We started the game playing downhill and for the next 40 minutes we faced an all-out assault from the Bec boys. Possession was almost non-existent and the WOBs spent the half camped in their own 22, relying on the defensive boot of Tyler as wave after wave of Bec attacks were repulsed . An early break on the Bec left flank gave our backs their first test, but Tom (returning at fullback after a 6 week lay-off) was wrong-footed. Fortunately a remarkable chase back and cover from Andy Pollen – reminiscent of his match-winning effort at the Caterham Sevens – saved the WOBS from conceding an early score. Minutes later a fast recycle by the Bec boys created a five versus 2 man overlap but, amazingly, the WOBS cavalry cover arrived just in time with Jacko charging the Bec winger into touch like a frenzied sumo wrestler – and Pardo flying in to climb over Jacko to double up on the tackle.
Despite the relentless assault, with the tempo of the game controlled by Bec, there were glimmers of hope with the WOBS looking sharp and dangerous on the few occasions when they were allowed to string together a few passes. Typical was a penalty on our 22, taken smartly by Jamie. A couple of jinks later, and the ball was neatly offloaded to Pardo, who made a clean break with only the fullback to beat. The swerve option selected by Matt was not quite the best choice, and he was brought to ground. The writing was now on the wall for a WOBS revival, but would our boys manage to read the half time script? (always a big ask for some of our boys). At a mere 3-6 points down, despite a major battering and the slope against us to follow, there was a spirit of resolve in the team. The first minutes of the second half would be vital.
A bright start with a clever kick, chase and weighty tackle from Tom C lifted the spirits of the team, but within minutes our spirits were down as a ghastly injury (a suspected broken leg) to an unfortunate Bec back caused a 20-minute delay while the Ambulance was called. We adjourned to the adjacent pitch, but the WOBS were clearly out of sorts due to the break and from the scrum restart we immediately conceded a soft try. A penalty followed and suddenly we were 16-3 down with, ominously, the front five of Will, Pearse and Rob and the two Richards, having a torrid time as Bec drove home the slope advantage in the set pieces. The breaks round the fringes were exhausting the pack, with the back row trio of Chris, Ben and Hugo taking the brunt of the big hits. The fresh legs of Dan Mourad were brought to take on the heavy tackling duties, a job he took to with relish.
Desperate measures were required and Number 8 Hugo responded by picking up all bad ball (and there was plenty of it!) and driving the few vital metres to re-set the position for cleaner ball. From these few scraps the WOBS were able to give themselves a platform for counterattack. The chance came midway through the half when quick ball to the left found Tom Holt at outside centre facing the blanket cover of Bec backs. Tom cannily chipped over the top and the ball bounced our way. With both Toms and Ben crowded out by the defence, Matt appeared from nowhere (or was it from another bone-shaking tackle 50 metres away?) to touch down the loose ball. The Bec gates were now open (at 11-16) and now things were starting to happen. Gallic Ben hurled in a quick line-out (ouch!) and soon after was involved in a break wide on the left. With the ball lying loose, Tom C scooped a pass along the ground to keep the ball alive and, while the Bec centres were berating our trusty touch-judge for not raising his flag, the ball was speeding to the right for the ever-present Jacko – still convinced of his centre credentials – to burst through for a 20 metre try, coolly converted by Andy T.
The WOBS had taken the lead to 18-16, and the Bec boys were reeling but the controversy was not over. With just five minutes remaining they won a penalty and opted for the try attempt rather than take the kick – mistakenly believing themselves to be four points adrift, rather than just two. A match saving tackle from Pearse, jolting his dodgy shoulder again in the cause, and two enormous clearance kicks from Jamie kept Bec way from our lines and after a tense few minutes the game was won, and the celebrations could begin. Reports suggest that a great night was had by all up to about 9pm; after that is anyone’s guess…
As one Bec supporter said at the end: “It was clear that your boys just wanted it more than ours did.” Let’s keep this in mind as we greet our old (and frankly, slightly odd) friend Cyril of Wandsworth next week, and our sarky Walcountian foes for the next big one on 12th November.
DC, adviser TC]
1st October: WOBS 19 Raynes Park 11.
The second half restart at 3-8 down was going to be crucial for the WOBS, and fortunately the WOBS responded magnificently with wave after wave of attack, inspired by a dominant performance from the strong back row trio of Jackson, Burt, and Hugo Sanders (the latter making a big impact at Number 8 in his League debut). In fact all the forwards were magnificent, with Hammond partnering Saunders at lock, and five players used in the front row - Hurley, Hooch, Taylor, Kozary and Lane. Young Mark Lane, a third debutant for the WOBS today, impressed with some fine open play, and an accurate throw in the line-out. A beautiful passage of play soon after the interval saw the ball go left and eventually led to a quick release through the backs' hands and a finger-tip flick-on by Pardo led to a smartly taken try by Andy Pollen on the right. A series of astute penalty kicks from the silver boot of Andy Tyler, leading the team for the first time and making all the right decisions tactically, effectively wrapped up the game, as the advantage moved gradually from 2 points to five points to a safer margin of 8 points. One sequence in the last quarter stood out as the WOBS organized their runners off the back of the scrum with first Burt, then Will Taylor and then Sanders each punching big holes in the opponents' defence. Dan Mourad, quieter in early games, decided to emulate this with a couple of strong bursts through the centre, somersaulting out of one tackle to surge through for an additional 5-metre surge. Raynes Park fought to the last and in the final ten minutes dominated the game, with some WOBS-like open rugby, which required desperate defence from the WOBS - with Pardo making several match-saving tackles. Jamie had another tidy game at scrum half and Tom Holt at fullback was hardly troubled. Mark Wilson shored up the defence well, coming on for the hamstrung Ali Stirling.
This was an important game to win for our League campaign and, more crucially, one that would have been no fun to lose. Big thanks to the reserves Ben Holloway, Pearse and Darren who made the effort to get to the game, and support the squad - particularly club-man Ben whose selflessness over selection for the squad of 18, allowed both Saunders and Lane to have full games. And best wishes for a quick recovery Ali - that jug awaits.
24th September: London Fire Brigade 14 WOBS 61.
After a delayed start (due to a fire in Epsom) the game started predictably enough with repeated catch and drives and rolling mauls from our firemen friends. The WOBs were clearly out of sorts and it was shock rather than a surprise when the Firemen scored after 15 toiling minutes. The WOBS regathered but had to live off scraps in the first half. Fortunately there were enough and a beautiful break through the centres by Andy Tyler, after an inch-perfect pass from Jamie receiving loose ball by the touch line, started the recovery. New boy Ali Stirling, a helpless spectator for the first quarter, grabbed a smart try when the ball fell loose after a spectacular chase by Kasanda, who had pounced successively on three astounded firemen. The move of the half, and a good contender for a future pink fluffy cushion award, was by Chris Jackson, who took an inside pass from Tyler, burst through, chipped over the defence, chased to the line (yes, a full 60 metres in all), floored the full back, and when the ball fell loose, Jacko had the presence of mind to stretch out an arm to score - mistakenly reaching for his inhaler.
21-7 at the break and time for the WOBS team talk. The message from all who spoke, in that customary cloud of invective and expletive, was simply to stop those rolling mauls - a matter of skill rather than of strength. One voice, young Jamie, added the observation that "if we increase the tempo the firemen haven't got a chance" and these wise words from the mouth of Brucie were the key to the spectacular revival in the second half.
Despite conceding an early score from, you guessed it, a rolling maul, to bring the scores closer at 21-14, the WOBS had cracked the problem and with superlative hard graft around the edges, with Carson and Hurley doing some magnificent work, the strategy started to work. At every opportunity, driven by some lightning breaks from Jamie, the ball was flung loose - particularly to the right - for some spectacular moves from our own line, led by Dan, his fellow centre and the full back. The second half was a blur of running and passing, with three more tries to Ali, whose pace seemed guaranteed to score every time he received a loose ball. The forwards joined the fray with barn-storming runs from Tom Lewis and James Burt, who were both rewarded with tries, one from a beautiful inside flick by Tyler. The pick of them all was a surging run from Tom Holt, again on the right, enjoying his spell at full back, cutting out then in, and delaying the final pass perfectly to put through a flying Andy Pollen to score.
61-14 was the deserved final score which puts us second in the tale with two league wins out of two. A great league debut from James Madsen on the blind side flank, replaced by a fiery James Pymont at half time. Dave Lewis and Paul Kozary shared the hard work up front, and it was good to see Phil Myles, back in the team. This was a great performance but we need more discipline and application in the mauls if we are to do the same to Raynes Park next week.
THE 2004/2005 SEASON
19th February: Raynes Park 12 WOBS 20.
The omens were good for this game: a strong performance in the practice game last week against Warlingham of Surrey 1 and - the key difference this week - an Availability List to make the selectors' eyes water. With 22 fired-up players pitch-side on the day, the prospect of an upset against League leaders Raynes Park was a distinct possibility and skipper Carson rallied his troops to the call with a stirring oration before the kick-off.
With possibly our strongest pack of the season playing, we needed a good start - and James "I'm really a centre" Burt, relishing his first chance in the coveted No 7 jersey, led the way with an enormous charging leap from the kick-off and some shuddering early tackles. It was soon clear that the main threats from Raynes Park were a rumbling set of wheeling forwards and a fine playmaker at No 10, and it was from a wheel on our own scrum that the Park were able to steal the ball and run uncontested for a simple try. More breaks were being made by our confident opponents but in some desperate last ditch tackles, often at the second attempt, from centres Holt and Gordon-Steward we held back the surge. Ben Calnan on the wing provided some critical cover tackles, one an amazing double effort as he leapt up from the ground to make the second strike. The WOBS chipped back at them with two well taken penalties - the second one a beautifully cued strike from the golden left boot of our own 'Eddie Charlton' - and then delivered a killer blow with a text-book inside pop pass from Tyler to Tom Calnan, which saw the fullback touch down effortlessly next to the posts to give us a deserved 13-7 lead. By this team the WOBS' heads were up and the park was being comfortably patrolled by the back-row of Goughy, Burt and Wilson, ably supported by Saunders and Hammond in the powerhouse. A minor aberration close to the half time whistle allowed Raynes Park a second score but, crucially, the WOBS were a point up at 13-12 for the changeover.
With the WOBS turning round to face a strong wind, the game could have gone either way. But a superb re-start followed by a decisive break from Holt saw the ball sweep from side to side, before flashing rapidly through the centres' hands to the left wing, who cut in, set the ball up for our marauding forwards. This gave the opportunity for newcomer Eoin Carson to be rewarded for his pace to the breakdown with the critical try, to give us a healthy eight point margin. Lee demonstrated his commitment and versatility with some good darts from wing or centre, and Mark Wilson, coming on for the last quarter, showed his experience by stepping through with consummate ease to make a fine break which unluckily did not result in a score. Cameo moments were a pass from Hammond directly from the line-out to fly-half and an outrageous step and dummy kick from Dave Wilson, playing his most assertive game of the season in a Man of the Match performance.
In the last quarter Raynes Park gradually realized that the game was slipping from their grasp and an intense period of pressure began. On this occasion though the WOBS resolve was up to the task, and the whole team played their part in a superb defence. Our scrum halves, Jamie in the first half and newcomer Ed Bishop in the second, had good and gritty performances, both hampered by some appalling off-side encroachments from our opponents' back row, when it became clear to Raynes Park that the referee was unwilling to take control of this part of the game. Clever box kicks allowed the WOBS some vital breathing space when under pressure, and some strong defensive clearances from Tyler into the strong wind kept the Park well away from our line at the end, when they were running the ball at us from all quarters.
Dave Lewis came on at the close to relieve the exhausted front row trio of Rob, Eoin and Ox, and four other players were available but not used on the day - Ben Nickell, Teds, Paul Kozary and Peter Hilton. The whole squad, including the subs, can take great credit from a superb team performance and a display of true commitment to the cause. Impressively, the WOBS continued their steadfast commitment to the cause later on in the Ship, again showing grit and determination as pint after pint of 'Winter Warmer' was despatched in the traditional Surrey manner - to the tune of "You Zulu Warrior". Regular patrons and bar-staff alike embraced this revelry - right up to the point where we were asked to leave. Notable performances included the purchase and consumption of several rounds of whisky shots from our honorary jock Gordon-Steward, and a wonderful cameo from Captain Bobby, whose deft moves culminated in a trip to Pagliaccio's (via old friend McDonalds) for a pizza and a sleep. The perfect end to a cracking day.
DC. After hours reporter TC.]
22nd January: Teddington Antlers 34 WOBS 41.
For this important League match - just as we had done on 8th January - the WOBS listened to our pre-match briefing and started the game in tremendous form. The forwards provided a rock-solid platform, punch-punch-spinning the ball wide for our fleet-footed backs, with our five flankers showing up regularly in the right places to provide silky skills in support. It was a marvellous spectacle from the boys in Blue and Gold and within 20 minutes the WOBS had four tries on the board. A darting run from a scrum by Jamie, an incisive break through the middle from Tom, a pacy finish from Andy Pollen, and a score from Lee, returning bronzed from his winter trip down under …as well as having several excellent chances which were only thwarted by a dropped pass by the effervescent WOBS. The try-glut slackened a bit as Teddington regathered their forces, but by half time Tom had poached another try and the lead was a 'seemingly unassailable' one of 36-12.
Something happened during the half-time team talks and, unfortunately it was the Antlers who came out fighting - with a simple plan to use their large No 8, Prop and Centre as three battering rams. The new tactics from the Antlers worked and the WOBS deer-hunters became the hunted as we faltered, time and again missing the first tackle (by not going low enough), and surrendering the gain line too easily. The tackles were still coming in later on, with some great efforts from all eight up front - with Ben Nickell outstanding - but we were now on the back foot, the pressure was great, and tiredness was setting in. And once again the WOBS learnt the painful lesson that flicking bad ball back to the three-quarters is not the way to win a game. The rot had set in, and even though we stole another smartly taken try early in the third quarter - another really fast burst from Pollen - the error-count, turn-overs and back-chat were all mounting. Our opponents' confidence, and try count, rose accordingly as the charging Antlers realized that they were back in the hunt. The last ten minutes were the most painful (to play and to watch) but luckily the WOBS had just enough points in the bag to hold off to win 41-34.
Despite the tight result and poor second half performance, there were a lot of positives to be taken from this game. The front row of Kozary, Carson and Lewis (and later John Wicks who came on to add some needed energy and good cleaning out for the last 20 minutes) were not really troubled in the set pieces. Teds and Goughy provided enough shove in the second row, and the back row of Dave Wilson, James Burt and Ben all had good games individually. And all the backs looked sharp and did some great running and tidy covering at various points during the game. Perhaps the single failing was simply that we stepped back a pace to allow to Teddington to run at us - plus there may have been a hint of some point-chasing individualism at key moments, when the simple wide ball would generate the best results for the whole team.
But a win is a win, and morale remains high. Just as important, we remain undefeated for our three games in 2005. And now we know exactly what needs to be done for the next game, against Alleynians on 29th January - to play the way we can for the full 80 minutes. It's not half a game!
8th January: WOBS 38 Old Walcountians 17.
It was the first game of the year for the turkey-stuffed WOBS and the Old Walcountians, riding high in Surrey 2, were expecting an easy win. But they had not read the script of the Jacko Christmas Message, which had told the WOBS in no uncertain terms what was needed to revive our League campaign.
downhill the WOBS had a tremendous start with Hammond, finding new powers
after an unaccustomed Friday night of abstinence, bursting immediately
through the whole pack, then sidestepping the midfield defences, only
to be stopped by their full-back, falling at his feet. The first quarter
This effort inspired the whole team, the backs starting to click again, with Jamie back in partnership with Andy Tyler, giving the chance for both wings, Ben Calnan and Kevin Danagher, to shine. Kevin was enjoying his first taste of WOBS rugby, finding several opportunities to run wide on the right, and cutting down several attempted OW counterattacks with some powerful follow-up tackles, and scoring a neat try to bring us up to 12-0. The last 10 minutes of the half saw a reversal of fortunes with OWs camped on our line. Tackle after tackle went in for the WOBS but the thin blue-and-gold line did not waver, despite an ever-increasing number of penalties and five-metre scrums. The telling moment - perhaps the decisive incident of the whole game - came when after a clean Walcountian break wide on the left, Ed G-S was able to turn on his heels to bring off a try saving tackle. From here the WOBS were able to pounce on a loose ball, releasing Ben after some really slick handling through the centres. A second cameo move came after a quick penalty by - er, Hooch !? - who passed and looped effortlessly to take us close to the Walcountians line. In the final line-out of the half, close to their line, the whole WOBS team knew what was happening and a single voice was heard from the OW coach "watch out, their full-back's joining the line"… but it was too late to stop a beautiful floating DSM by Tyler wide to the right for Tom to pluck out of the air, and ghost through at full throttle for a perfect score. But was 19-nil going to be enough with the wind and slope against us?
Luckily the WOBS paid full heed to their half-time pep talk and kept their form from the re-start with Jamie trying out his reverse pass and then taking a snap decision to go blind, finding Tom Holt, who made a strong dash for a killing try, converted from wide out by Tyler. The WOBS made three substitutions: Andy Pollen (on for cramping Ed), Dan Pring (to replace hamstrung Gough), and Ben Nickell (for hand-crushed Jacko), but a few indiscretions allowed chances for Walcountians to make use of the slope and they edged back to 26-12. But to their credit the WOBS regathered and, in a superb passage of play, again involving a surging break from Kevin on the right, gave Dave Wilson the chance to execute a text-book No 8 try from the ensuing scrum. Our opponents responded with a late try to give them a faint glimmer of hope and the ball was flung frantically across the pitch - allowing Tom to steal a cheeky interception to seal the game at 38-17.
This was by far the WOBS best performance of the season, and gives us great hope for a second half revival. Well done to the whole squad, including a big thank you to Adrian Pring the unlucky non-playing nineteenth member of the squad - there'll be plenty of chances for all in the weeks to come.
[Reporter - DC]
9th October: WOBS 10 Old Abingdonians 17
With 5 substitutes supporting the squad on the day, we were able to bring on three fresh players at half-time (Paul Kozary, Tom Holt and Alex Podbury), and although we lost some of our form in the set pieces, we still controlled the loose, with the back row of Goughie and Burt now coming into the game more. Alex Podbury showed his fitness and ball skills, to add new continuity between forwards and backs. Eventually we were awarded and converted a penalty, and with this our confidence grew. Although bloodied and with aching back, Andy Tyler was starting to make some breaks by now - and released two beautiful wide DSMs to Tom. It seemed that a try was inevitable, but the ref had different ideas, ruling that Andy was 'held-up' after seeming to have made a good touch-down after a silky solo break. Desperation was starting to set in, as passes were spilled and chances lost, and our opponents opted for some time-wasting tactics. But a strong burst from Chris followed by a subtle switch inside, gave our full-steam full-back a spectacular try. Soon after Tom Holt was stopped short of the line, playing in the unlikely left wing position. In the closing minutes, Jamie who had had a really excellent game at half-back, with some inch perfect passes to his stand-off, started to make some speedy darts of his own. But it was all too late and 10-17 was the disappointing outcome.
the unfavourable result, there were many positives to be taken from this
game, including the lesson that we do need to take our chances when we
get them, especially when they arrive early as they did in this game.
And perhaps we have to recognize that when the forwards are playing well
we don't need always to sling the ball wide, and put unnecessary pressure
on ourselves when the mistakes arise. All this can be ironed out with
more match-practice and, dare it be said, some training?
2nd October: London Fire Brigade 13 WOBS 34
The second League game of the season for the WOBS was against the Fire Brigade - a must-win game if the WOBS were to revive their campaign for 2004-2005.
With a strong wind and a big slope in our favour the WOBS struggled to take advantage of the conditions despite a solid base of possession from the set-pieces, anchored by the new front row combo of Hooch, Pearse and Dean 'Ox' Hurley. Unusually, we also got the better of the line-outs where James Burt was stealing good ball at the front, with Rich Hammond at 4 picking up some loose throws as well.
The backs had a new look about them with Andy Tyler making an impression on his first game with the WOBS with several half-breaks from fly half - well served by some clean fast delivery from rookie Jamie Bruce playing with rising confidence in what was already his fifth game this season at half-back. The WOBS were solid in defence but were stuttering in attack, and turned around with a slim 10-0 lead - thanks to a charging break from Jacko, enjoying a run out at inside centre.
Despite a score from Tom straight after the changeover to bring the score quickly to 17-0, things got very difficult for the WOBS as the Brigade showed us how to use the slope and wind to good effect with two well-taken forward rumbles to creep back to 13-17, and set the WOBS alarm bells ringing. Under intense pressure the WOBS knuckled down to fight fire with fire and, gradually, the Tyler half-breaks turned into clean breaks - and ominously for the Firemen Tom Calnan started to find some space out wide in the gaps left by our public-spirited opponents. A mazy run of 70 yards from deep in own our half was stopped inches short of the line, and a second dash suffered the same end - but this time Ben was on hand to take the pass off the ground for an easy touch-down.
The move of the day showed the WOBS at their champagne-best with the ball sweeping from right to left and back again, with the whole team seeming to have a hand in the movement. While the ragged firefighters were considering how to defend the third surge out wide, Adrian Edwards cleverly reversed the play with a beautifully executed version of a "Cuthbert Dibble and Grub-ber" kick straight through the defence, and raced through to touch down in the corner. After that the Brigade appeared to go on strike as the WOBS piled on the points, with a second try from Tom finally extinguishing any remaining embers of resistance, as our opponents threw in the metaphorical fire-blanket.
This was a great performance, captained with intelligence and inspiration by Pearse who led the way with some typical aggressive tackling. "Just make sure you're more psychotic than they are" were the wise words uttered by the skipper at the break. There were strong performances too from Richard Saunders, Ben 'everywhere' Nickell, and Teds. Plus a trade-mark burst from Hammond, finding his lungs late in the game to run clean through the wavering fire defences. And good support from substitute players Jeremy, Dave and Darren. Thanks go as well to Callum for dusting down the boots for the day, and leading a large group of WOBS supporters (four ladies, three men and their three dogs).
DC (editorial TC)].
"HANGING ON IN THERE"
This Season started with a croak rather than a roar as we were put to the sword by our old adversaries Old Haileyburians. A dramatic defeat in the first game led to many asking whether Surrey 2 would be too much to cope with. Would it be another short stay and then straight back down again? We all hoped not but things didn't look good, yet all along there was a belief that this is where we should be playing our rugby - against harder opposition than last year and with a tough game each week. Two more losses came before we managed a draw in our third game of the season and our first league points
The World cup was now well underway and we hoped that the crushing power of the England team would inspire the boys to greater things. Could we learn from the precision and excellence of Wilkinson - the speed of Back and the power of Hill and Johnson?
As awesome as the England performance was it took the Wobs several weeks to recover fully from the celebrations and it was not until late January 2004 that we secured our first win in the league and a chink of light in what had so far been a very dark season. With renewed vigour we marched on to the end of the season trying to preserve our place in Surrey Division 2 for which we had fought so hard the season before. A win in mid February and two further wins in our last two games of the season found us resting well away from the relegation zone and able to take next season head on now we know what the standard is like. To be honest on our day we could beat most teams in Surrey 2 but we need to be more consistent. We have achieved our first aim of staying up and now need to concentrate on fitness over the summer ready for the 2004-05 season to begin in September.
We include below two 'live' reports on key successes for the WOBS Under 21's and the Sevens Squad last season.
We have a very good base of players who are old boys, and some friends of old boys, but we are very keen for more players, especially Worth Leavers and University Leavers.
if you are an aspiring player and want to play a good standard with a
side that plays hard both on and off the pitch please contact either Desmond
Calnan at email@example.com or
Jonathan Nickell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"MACCA'S MIGHTY WOBS REACH SEMIS OF SOUTH of ENGLAND U-21s COMP"
The omens were good from the start: 16 WOBS at the ground at 10am, an hour before kick-off, with a few guests from Durham making up the full squad of 21… already changed and warming-up…could this really be a WOBS team? Yes, Max McAlister had done a great job getting things organized, but how would the boys perform after a year of gapping?
The first round against St Paul's had a difficult start, with the WOBS not getting sight of the ball at all in the opening minutes against a large pack. But after taking a steadying penalty the side quickly settled into some flowing rugby. The floodgates opened with some fine running and silky handling, with tries from Max McAlister (3), Tom Podbury (2) and guest Brendan McKercher who had taken over control of the game with electric service from the back of the scrum, combining well with Ben Green at stand-off. Despite the one-sided scoreline of 35 nil, St Paul's continued to come back at us, and some solid tackling was needed in the backs, led by some aggressive play from fit-again Sam Middlehurst in the centre.
The second Round saw us facing a top team from Tonbridge, who had won a very high-class game against Eton. The first half was tight and scoreless, with the well-drilled Tonbridge forwards contesting strongly, and our backs unable to penetrate a smothering Tonbridge defence. A glimpse of a break from Phil Doyne-Ditmas late in the half gave us hope for the second period. Despite spending long periods in their half, it always looked as though a breakaway try might settle things, and so it was to be. Midway through the tense second half, with extra time looming, the break finally came as the WOBS, defending, suddenly secured possession and spotted space on the right. The ball sped rapidly to the wing with some lightning handling skills, including a deft touch from Phil again, finding its way back inside to Max who had a 40 metre sprint for the posts. A penalty soon after allowed the WOBS to wrap up the game with a superb 10-0 victory.
After the prize scalp of Tonbridge came the chance to take on Whitgift in the Quarter Finals. Although the Whitgift team was strong, the WOBS' confidence was now running sky high, and Ed Davies and Brendan were able to knock the Whitgift fly-half right off his game. We kept the ball moving and after several phases of superb play slipped the ball blind for a smartly taken try on the left by Max. The second half tactics were to keep the ball deep into the corner, in order to secure good line-out possession from Dan O'Connell who leapt all day, supported by good work from Phil Myles and (later on) Paddy Scott. Rob Palmer and Pikey shared the hooker's duties and threw accurately. The pressure forced errors from Whitgift, and resulted in two more good tries - the first a stampeding run from No 8 Rob Evans [at least his uncle Rivlin was a WOB!], and then a well-gathered pass taken by Charlie Vaughan-Fowler in a very tight space on the right. Fifteen nil, and into the Semis.
were hit from the start by a whirlwind from Wellington, and in minutes
we were 10 nil down. But the plucky WOBS, against the play, managed to
claw back, and it was only a professional foul, rewarded by the sin-bin,
which prevented a try from Tom Podbury. We took the penalties and turned
round still in contention at 6-10 down, with Jack Bodkin continuing to
take them on, and Phil Symonds keeping us in contention with some great
covering. The two sides were tired now, Ben's feet were bleeding profusely
and both Sam and Max took heavy head blows early on. Again we showed the
Wellington machine too much respect, and allowed two tries to slip past,
the second one delivered after a blatant foul off the ball by our arch-enemies.
See you all there next time, on Sunday 5th September 2004.
Under-21 Squad on the Day:
Games for WOBS Under 21's:
WIN SEVENS SILVERWARE
OLD CATERHAMIANS SEVENS - SATURDAY 15TH APRIL 2006
In the first game of the day, the Young WOBS 2 team met tournament favourites Rosslyn Park - and for the first few minutes gave the Park quite a scare. They started by pressing the Park right up on their lines, and only the smallest of mistakes allowed the Park to break through to score. A few minutes later it was the WOBS who were breaking through, with Alex Podbury sprinting 2 thirds of the pitch to make a fine score. More pressure from the WOBS brought out the worst in the Park, who tried to slice off the Keelaghan head (wouldn't you?) with an outrageously bad tackle. The ref didn't have the courage to bin the offender, and from that point the Park cruised comfortably to victory.
In the meanwhile WOBS 1 were in some disarray with skipper Lee Howard arriving late in traffic with Tom Lewis only minutes before the first game. Bolstered by some fit lads from the Twos they put up a good fight against Castaways but conceded a late try when pressing for victory. The group was a difficult one for WOBS 1, with a strong Foostcray side and Chipstead taking wins over our boys. As the injuries increased the determination of the squad grew and the final games saw a convincing win over Warlingham, followed by a tight 28-28 draw with Kittens where Podbury grabbed a hat-trick of tries. Wisely the WOBS declined to take a penalty kick with the scores level and a minute to go, saving the battle-weary team the pain of any further games.
WOBS 2 followed their first game with an easy win over Suttonians, with Keelaghan and Pring scoring freely - and the took on Eastbourne Stags in a bad-tempered encounter where again the Keelaghan head took a swipe, and although this time the WOBs had the satisfaction of seeing the perpetrator red-carded. But unfortunately our own red mist had set in allowing the Stags to finish the game well on top despite having only six players.
In the Plate competition the WOBS 2 boys really came into their own with a classy win against the Kittens followed by a tight (but solid) win over Castaways, avenging the defeat of their seniors. The players who stood out in these games were Dan Pring who continued to run in tries from the wing at will, and Mark Breen who seemed to have more energy than others, and who covered the park with some great defence, as well as always providing a threat in attack. Plus the raw pace of Kevin Danagher was used to great effect.
The final was a big anti-climax, with Worth taking on the hosts Old Cats, and somehow managing to upset the referee into awarding penalty after penalty against us. The final straw was when he reversed the penalty decision when we were camped on their line - for the controversial 'offence' of pushing an opponent who was preventing us having quick ball for our penalty….! Clearly the Old Cats were destined to win their own Competition.
Nevertheless, Silverware was won in this our first game of the campaign. The WOBS squad decided to hand over their 'purse' for this win to Mitcham RFC who are collecting money for one of their players, Dan Hodges who has suffered severe spinal injuries in a recent game (on 18th Feb 2006). Well done WOBS.
1 (tries in brackets):
2 (tries in brackets):
Middlesex Sevens: Saturday 30th April, 2005
With possibly our strongest squad of the season available, the WOBS were on fire for this Competition - but we were unfortunately a few twigs short of a bonfire, with only 8 players available for the day, and just seven for the first match against British Airways.
Despite a frantic start from "Gallic Ben", who opened proceedings with a 10-metre forward pass to our startled high-flying opponents, the WOBS soon settled into a rhythm - which comprised letting the British Airways boys run straight at the WOBS until they dropped the ball, and then scoring at will. The pace of Tom Calnan and our feisty nouveau frenchman was too much for our opponents and, with Lee also stepping through the BA air-defences with ease, the three of them grabbed a brace of tries each. Dan Mourad, returning to the WOBS after a break of over two years, grabbed another, allowing the WOBS to take good care of the BA-boys with a resounding 45-nil win.
The second pool game, versus Quinton, was tougher and very tight with just a single WOBS score separating the teams at half-time. A good break from a very fit Tom Lewis paved the way for a second half avalanche with Andy Tyler mesmerizing the opposition with some electric breaks. The timely arrival of our eighth player, guest Chris Hay, added more pace to our flanks and - vitally - allowed Jacko to take a well-earned break. A hat-trick of tries from skipper Leeroy turned the game to a give the WOBS a convincing 31-5 victory.
The third round turned out to be our easiest game, with the Teddington Antlers being well and truly scalped by the WOBS rampant. We played the last quarter of the match with only 6 players when Dan had to leave the field to deflate a golf-ball sized swelling after taking a heavy blow to the forehead. This time it was Chris Hay's turn for a hat-trick, with Tom C and Tyler bagging a pair, and Lee and Tom Lewis also marking their cards with a try apiece. 57-5.
The WOBS had won their pool with consummate ease and were through to the Final for the day against 'former Premiership club' Harlequins Amateurs. The game started early but unfortunately the WOBS didn't, and within five minutes we were 21-0 down, after a couple of sloppy errors and some poor defending. The match started for us in the second half, with good tries from Tom and Lee, but the pressure was on us to press forward which allowed Harlequins to break through for their fourth try. A smart interception try late on by Tom brought us closer at 17-28, but time was up and the WOBS had to accept their third successive Finals defeat in this competition in three years.
This was one of the best-balanced teams the WOBS have ever fielded - with ball-winners Jacko and Lewis doing much of the graft for linkmen Dan, Andy Tyler and Lee. Ben and Tom were back very close to their fastest, and guest Chris Hay was a great all-rounder winning loose ball with some telling tackles and scoring freely. Skipper Lee was an inspiration in all games, and led the team from the front. Next Sunday (8th May) it's the highlight of our season, the Surrey Sevens (at Warlingham this year). Tom is unfortunately absent (playing soccer in Ireland seems to be an insufficient excuse….) but if we keep this form up, the WOBS must be in with a good chance of creating a major upset at Surrey this year. Come and play - or just watch!
Hendon Sevens: Sunday 24th April, 2005
The WOBS trekked up the Great North Way for their fourth successive year in this Competition with a great squad and high hopes of silverware. The boys made life difficult for themselves with a lucklustre first game against a fairly ordinary but bumbling Hammersmith & Fulham team - and before we knew it we were four scores down. We settled down to a better second-half performance but the damage was done and we lost 14-42, with tries from skipper Lee Howard and James Burt. Despite losing Nick Greaves to an unlucky self-inflicted neck injury after his third attempted side step, the squad rallied, after Pollen had cleared his head, to rip into the second and third pool games.
The second match was against group favourites, Old Albanians, who were totally outplayed by an electric performance from all, with Lee leading the way with two solo tries, soon followed up by another from Burt, with guests Steve Brimacombe and Pete Ostick both breaking through too for good scores. The transformation surprised our opponents completely (and most of those watching) but the change of fortune can be attributed entirely to our meticulously disciplined defence, with Sam Barnett cajoling the whole squad to keep their lines to secure a convincing 27-12 win. Tom Lewis and James Burt by this stage of the competition were dominating all kick-offs, whether receiving or chasing, with some great high takes from the restarts, with Ed Bishop and Tom Holt doing a lot of linking work around the park. With all four teams in the group having won 1/ lost 1, the final round against Old Hamptonians was set to be a nail-biter, but the tension relaxed at the outset, when a break through the middle by Lee, led to a long pass to Barnett, who switched beautifully with Steve to score a classic try. Two tries from a fully recovered Pollen, and another dart from Lee gave us a comfortable victory 24-12.
Points difference was to be the key so, in spite of crushing the pool winners Old Albanians, we finished second to take a place in the Plate semi-final against Eastbourne Stags. The WOBS were playing well but were unsettled by some unlucky breaks, including a preposterous "crossing" in the opening minutes, which put us three scores down to the shirt-ripping Stags. The WOBs regathered to pull back three tries through Steve, Lee and Barnett - with Toms Holt and Lewis leading the recovery with some desperate late surges. The chase for points led to further errors and the boys went down finally 21-31. But it was a performance the whole squad could be pleased with - and with a couple of lucky breaks and some more consistency, the team were quite good enough for Silverware this time.
Next week we have a head-to-head with Middlesex Sevens on Sat 30th April, followed by Haslemere the next day, on Sunday 1st May. All reinforcements, regulars and Uni boys, will be welcomed. Apparently Dan Mourad will play.
Sevens Competitions - April and May 2004
securing our league position the WOBS rounded off their season with an
impressive set of results in our annual quest for "Sevens Silverware",
but unfortunately we were not rewarded this year with the now-customary
tinkle of pewter Tankards and the chores of polishing Plaques Plates and
No silverware this year - but a very good campaign. Lee takes the plaudits for some great tries, matched by some superb sevens skill early on from Ben Green. Thanks go to Tom for leading the squad in the absence of injured (and exam-bound) skipper, Chris Jackson.
Those of us who were brave enough and old enough to pitch up at Worth on the weekend of the 18th to play against the much talked about and highly acclaimed new wobs were certainly given a run for their money. Confronted by a squad of more than 15 (which is a miracle) fresh faced, eager and highly drilled new wobs, the old wobs began to wonder what kind of affair this supposedly friendly match was going to turn into. The old wobs had been blessed with a string of talented past 1st team players including, 1999 captain Pearce Lynch and 2000 captain Lorenzo Stallion Curci. The names went as far back as Dean Hurley who proved to be an indispensable force in the tight play.
Similarly the new wobs had brought to the field a fantastic turn out and may I also point out a few ringers who used to play for a school called Joey's (some school in Sydney I think). Kick off came too soon and thanks to our intensive warm up and highly skilled coaching team, all players were up for the challenge.
It was an incredibly physical start with hundreds of ferocious hits going in. Some unfortunate defence from the old wobs resulted in the first points of the game and new wobs eased themselves 7 points ahead. The game maintained an incredibly elevated tempo and fitness was surely going to be the overall winner. Some dazzling foot work from the Australian playmakers in the new wobs backs prized open some Grand Canyon sized gaps in the old wobs back line and they were in for an easy try. A missed conversion and old wobs were trailing 12 - 0. Heads were down but some firm and true words from the almighty Lynch encouraged a sudden burst of brilliance from the old wobs forwards. As always we won the line out on their 22 and a tremendous surge was ignited by the old wobs. A classic Neil Back try was formed and a conversion to go with it. Just before half time the always persistent new wobs produced some spectacular rugby on and off the ball and scored another. 19 - 7 to new wobs at the half time whistle.
The second half would prove to be not so much a game but more of a battle, we were ready for the challenge that lay ahead. An extraordinarily animated old wobs pack started the second half with nothing but purpose. New wobs were once again all over us but we managed to sustain the pressure and exploit their mistakes. Holty took advantage of loose ball and dove for the line like lion on its prey. Tyler came up trumps and converted a tricky kick, 19 - 14. Fitness was really beginning to tell and breakdowns were not being cleared. An attack from the new wobs created all sorts of problems for old wobs and the inevitable was to happen. One of our Australian comrades fancied his chances directly through our pack and chipped ahead only to gather again and to offload to support and the birth of a magnificent champagne try, 24 - 14. Sloppy defence from the old wobs let them down again approaching the third quarter of the game, an easy try, 31 - 14. Things were looking bleak for the old wobs, retention was slow and passing was sloppy but a moment of inspiration from Curci changed all that. A gap was spotted and Curci burst through accompanied by team mates and a fantastic converted try, 31 - 21.
The old wobs were struggling and players looked fatigued. A few lucky decisions put the old wobs in a brilliant position, a scrum on the 22. Old wobs demolished the scrum again and some glorious play through the backs saw Holty wriggle through once more for his second try 31 - 28. All was not lost, the game could be pulled back yet? Wishful thinking when once again the new wobs backs seemed to drift past the defence as if they weren't there. A three man overlap and some clever fowl play saw the new wobs run in the final try of the game.
It was a highly physical and competitive game and the quality of rugby was astonishing. Well done to the new wobs but at the end of the day, Rugby was the winner.
Final score: 36 - 28
Sunday 8th September: “YOBS” 13 “WOBS” 12
Monday 26th August 2013: National Under-21 XV’s Festival
Rugby Club Magazine Feature