Director of Rugby Steve Pope's prediction that he would need his whole senior section squad to support the First XV came to fruition sooner than he would have liked after a bruising start to the season.
With essentially a whole team who might be considered for selection injured opportunities to shine have been offered and taken and there were debuts for Jordan Oldershaw, Jamie Cullen and Olly Fox. In turn stalwarts Joe Goddard celebrated his 80th cap and Joe David his 40th.
Brighton Blues have had a start to the season that would befit their name suffering three defeats however Cobham came into the game off the back of a heavy defeat against London Cornish so the portents were for a close finish. Nobody could have anticipated just how close.
Brighton created some early pressure from a penalty infringement but this was not only withstood but provided any opportunity for a Cobham breakaway. However in keeping with the breathless end to end play that was a feature of this game a loose ball was collected by the Brighton back line and their full back Morris broke through the Cobham line to register the first score 0-5 after 5 minutes.
Josh Brown came off the subs bench temporarily to replace Joe Davis for a blood injury and Cobham brought themselves back into the match following a towering line out take from Goddard with prop Sam Matcham storming over and Farrelly converting 7-5. However Cobham's injury woes continued when fellow prop Ben Joyce suffered a crunching rib and shoulder injury bringing Joe Davis back and Josh Brown to show he is indeed a utility player switching to the front row.
Brighton responded to take the lead 10-7 when their winger ( 14) went over in the corner but with the first of three conversions to hit the post they failed to convert but they did then execute an excellent back line break to put their number 8 Heward in for a converted try 7-17.
The game looked to be slipping away from the home side but Adrian Van Der Ploeg stepped up to score a Captain's try 12-17 ( It was Farrelly's turn to hit the post) and create momentum that winger Max McDonald was to exploit twice as Cobham sliced through the Brighton defence and 12-17 swiftly became 24-17 and a bonus point secured for Cobham by half time.
Confidence restored Cobham started the second half as they had finished the first and McDonald and Davis surged forward but a yellow card for Luke Olderman for an adjudged high tackle created pressure for Cobham and Brighton chose a scrum close to the line signalling their determination to restore the lead The decision was vindicated as centre Fogerty crashed over but Tegellars hit the post 24-22.
Brighton full back Maxx Morris had shown his acceleration a couple of times during the afternoon but his literally runaway try under the posts took Brighton in front again 24-29.
You know you are watching a great game of rugby when you can feel the tension on the sidelines in the silences and it was heightened even further when full back George Tunnacliffe created the territory and position Cobham needed to score their best try of the afternoon with backrow Theo Buffini finishing a fast flowing incursion to cross the line 29-29-five tries apiece.
Brighton had lost their previous match in the final few minutes and had no intentions of doing the same again and in what looked to be a match winning score winger Downey raced over Tregellars converted and looked to have won their first match 29-36 With the minutes running down full back Tunnacliffe finished off a drive started by prop Matcham, Farrelly converted and the full time scored finished 36-36 and three points for each team.
Steve Pope said
5 games in the first month of the season is going to test any of the sides in this level of competition. As a club we have a large number of players out injured or now un - available for some considerable time.... this is highlighted even more so by the large number of students we have returning to university.
As we continue to look to build the depth in our senior squad.. I'm pleased to say numbers at training are improving which I hope in turn will enable me to be more consistent in selection each week and drive competition for places in the 1st and 2nd teams even more.
Today was a difficult match for ... both side's, working hard for a much needed win. Brighton are always a tough opponents, I think a draw was a fair reflection of the game. We were inconsistent and 3 soft try we conceded during the yellow card really hurt us.
Lots of positive's to take from today as we build to two big away games next weekend.
We had a number of boys on debut...today other's hitting milestones and I do really believe as a club we are moving in the right direction.
I was very pleased with the determination shown to fight back today. The Brighton boys guys are always a good set of lads and look to play.
We wish them well for the rest of the season and look forward to the return fixture.
I'm looking forward to the selection headaches' we will have if we ever get the whole squad fit and available.
1 Ben Joyce
2 Andrew Murphy
3 Sam Matchham
4 Adrian Van Der Ploeg (Captain)
5 Joe Goddard
6 Doug Rodman
7 Theo Buffini
8 Joe Davis
9 Rob Kennard
10 Tom Farrelly
11 Jordan Oldershaw
12 Luke Oldershaw
13 James Cullen
14 Max MacDonald
15 George Tunnacliffe
16 Josh Brown
17 Michael Wasko
18 Olly Fox
No3 Sam Matchham x1
No4 Adrian Van Der Ploeg x1
No7 Theo Buffini x1
No 14 Max MacDonald x 2
No15 George Turnacliffe x1
No 10 Tom Farrelly x 3 Conversions