Only two points separated the teams in the league but with Tottonians having won their last two matches and Cobham losing theirs the momentum was with the visitors. Points from this fixture were important for both clubs as the season starts to move towards the close
Similar to Cobham RFC (Old) Tottonians RFC was formed as a rugby club for the ex pupils of Totton Grammar School and as their President Ken Johnston confirmed in his humourous pre match speech they are a wholly amateur club, exactly like Cobham, creating their team with players from the mini and youth sections.
Cobham like to welcome their guests to the Memorial Fields but the home supporters probably felt the team had offered slightly too much hospitality during the first fifteen minutes of the match as Tottonians raced into what felt to be an unassailable 0-17 lead.
The initial score came from sustained forward pressure by Tottonians eventually moving the ball wide for a score by number 7 Jack Owsley. Full back Rich Colmer calmly converting 0-7. A penalty by Colmer followed 0-10 and then second row Dan Williams ran through tackles for what became a second converted try 0-17.
There are a number of sports :-baseball, basketball, American football, that provide for a "time out' an opportunity for the manager or coach to talk to their players. Cobham's director of rugby Steve Pope would have probably wanted rugby to have been added to that list because he could certainly see that there were fifteen Cobham players on the pitch however at this stage it wasn't entirely clear whether they had realised the the game had started!
Then as if a switch had been flicked to play Cobham put together a combination of phases that brought them back into the game.
Firstly James MacDonald, growing accustomed to his number 13 centre shirt, broke free to set up scrum half Ryan Saunders for a try, Luke Flower converted 7-17 and then just as Tottonians had resumed their pressure centre James Mitchell intercepted deep in Cobham's half and raced towards the visitors' try line securing a well timed pass to Max MacDonald to enable him to celebrate his 100th senior appearance with an unconverted try 12-17.
The frenetic scoring slowed as both sides continued to play attacking rugby but their respective defences improved. Cobham lost winger Tiernan White to injury, George Tunnacliffe coming off the subs bench but the next score was by a forward hooker Mario Zakakiotis who showed his pace achieving an excellent score to bring the scores level 17-17.
Will Sanders had been making some strong runs from his full back position and collecting his own high ball kicks superbly and just before half time one of his runs was deliberately obstructed by a Tottonian player and he was yellow carded.
Steve Pope now got his official time out and it was wholly apparent what had been said at the break as Cobham restarted with a renewed purpose. Demonstrated when they fired the ball down the back line for Max McDonald to make it a brace of tries. Flower converting 24-17 and Cobham had their 4 try bonus point.
Tottonians were not flinching from their task and their strong pack in the scrum and line out provided good possession. Their rolling maul was as good as any Cobham had encountered all season and they obtained a penalty in the Cobham 22 that Colmer secured to bring the scores to 24-20.
Cobham used their other two substitutes Ryan Aujla and Freddie Joyce for Harry Green and Luke Flower with Jake McQuade proving once again to be the utility player who can play front row back row and backline. The final twenty minutes saw great defence from Cobham, exemplified by the tackling of James Mitchell who targets his opposition player like nobody and rocks them back on their feet. However with just one try separating the teams Cobham knew they needed to draw away and a scrum close to the Tottonian try line provided scrum half Ryan Saunders with a great opportunity to display his distinctive breakaway skill as he turned what looked to be scappy possession into a try. 29-20
The final well deserved score by Will Sanders was enabled by Max MacDonald and with Luke Flower off Sanders converted his own try 36-20
Director of rugby Steve Pope said ''After a good warm up I was very surprised to watch the first 10 -15 unfold!...which was not enjoyable.. I have to say to come back after going behind to any side by 17 points is a huge turn around. I'm please to say the response from the players was first class, a very important 5 points against a tough opponent. with loads still to play for...
1 Chris Lippiatt
2 Mario Zakakiotis
3 Sam Matcham
4 Doug Rodman
5 Harry Green
6 Louis Porter
7 Olly Fox (C)
8 Jake McQuade
9 Ryan Saunders
10 Luke Flower
11 Max MacDonald
12 James Mitchell
13 James MacDonald
14 Tiernan White
15 Will Sanders
16 Ryan Aujla
17 Freddie Joyce
18 George Tunnacliffe
No 11 Max MacDonald x 2 Tries
No 9 Ryan Saunders x 2 Tries
No 15 Will Sanders x 1 Try x 1 Conversion
No 2 Mario Zakakiotis x 1 Try
No 10 Luke Flower x 2 Conversion
Man of Match: Ryan Saunders Sponsored by George & Dragon Thames Ditton