Cobham took another significant step towards the London SW2 league title on Saturday with a hard fought bonus point win over greatly improved Effingham & Leatherhead.
The 5 points achieved leave the league leaders 2 points away from securing automatic promotion into London 1 South. Fittingly the squad travel next to promotion rivals London Cornish...
In the two sides previous encounter Cobham ground out the win in a mud soaked gale at a notoriously difficult place to gain maximum points. In stark contrast It seemed that Spring had final sprung on Saturday, as both sides were greeted with bright sunshine and a large firm surface.
Coaches Pope and Walsh would have been confident that the fast paced and expansive game that their side has been playing would have too much for the Eagles who had been struggling for consistency.
In contrast the potential for their young team to look towards the top of the table clash the week after might lead to complacency...
These fears seemed to be bear out as a sluggish start from Cobham allowed the Eagles to score within 5 minutes. Buoyed by their early ascendancy, the visitors would continue to look the brighter until hard running from standout Dave Baker and typical incision from James Clements opened the home sides account. 7-5
Not deterred by being pegged back, the visitors maintained there positive start and were making inroads with hard running. This led to a second try on 10 minutes as the Eagles got in behind the usually tight cobham defence to score wide. 7-12.
This and what seemed like some stern words from Physio Silver gave the side the kick they needed. Kennard and Weir were growing into the game. First Weir struck sweetly from the tee to make it 10-12. Then wingers Kitto, fresh from u21 Surrey Cup winning action, and Max Macdonald crossed consecutively. 24-12.
With Cobham being sparked into life, Effingham and leatherhead, having thrown the kitchen sink at their host, might have running out of steam. This was not to be the case for the plucky visitors who crossed a third time to there delight.
With Cobham pressing, the half time whistle brought an end to an at times ragged first period.24-17
Despite the lead, one sensed Cobham might have been in for a volley from the usually measured Pope... There trademark tempo and control had been lacking and He, Walsh and Silver would surely demand more discipline and structure.
What was said seemed to have been heeded as Cobham started the second period with the ascendancy.
In a ten minute spell the fading Eagles set piece allowed first Brown to cross from a line-out. The touchdown taking the prop remarkably to top try scorer for the season. Veteran Rodman then crossed as the home sides scrum started to dictate. 34-17
Again one might have thought that the bonus point score signalled the end to the game as a contest. The Eagles however were not done yet and crossed on 60 minutes for their own bonus point. 34-22. With a few more conversions bagged the game may well still have been in the balance...
As has been the case this year the home support need not have worried. The Cobham sides fitness, and speed in the last 20 minutes has been hard to handle for most. This again led to Kennard sniping through tired guard defence to score and Farrelly to round things off for unselfish Clements. 46-22
The score line may well have flattered the home side who's display was far from their finest. It certainly did not reflect the efforts of a much improved Eagles side who will take heart and a BP from this performance .
On reflection coach Pope mused
"We will learn a lot from this performance. Our prep was not where it needs to be at the this stage of the season both individually and collectively. Perhaps however it's the jolt we need.
Next week is a milestone we have been looking to ever since the Cornish fixture was re-arranged. We have been running at 75% for a few weeks. Not next week. I'm expecting our side to explode into that game with an unprecedented intensity. From whistle to whistle. The rest will take care of its self."
Join Cobham at the Richard Evans Memorial Playing Fields just off the A3 as Cobham look to secure promotion to London 1S.