Cobham overwhelm plucky Vandals in Elmbridge Derby.
Cobham took another large step towards promotion with a hard fought bonus point win against local rivals Weybridge Vandals.
The first encounter between the two sides ended in a comprehensive win for Cobham after a tough first half playing into a stiff wind.
The return fixture would play out in similar fashion. Captain Kennard chose to play against the breeze in the first half as the side returned to the premier pitch.
Steve Pope had had to shuffle his deck once more. In came Luke Bliss at 8 whilst Kunkler partnered the returning joe Goddard. Rob Fleming started at 7 with Doug Rodman returning from a prolonged injury layoff. Joe Davis moving back to Hooker. In the backs Pedro Campo de Silva made his debut on the wing.
Cobham made the brighter start building multiple phases and working there way up the field. Captain Kennard was keeping the Vandals ruck guards tied in around the base and this was allowing his runners space wider. Within 5 minutes this led to the first try. Repeated phases had drawn in the Vandals defenders to provide the Veteran centre Cowell a simple try on his 144th appearance. Converter successful by fly half Weir. 7-0. Despite this early blow, Vandals were providing stern defence and were able to keep possession far longer than in the previous encounter.
This dictated that the middle phases of the first half were evenly shared, whilst the Cobham link play posed the greater threat.
Cobham then added to their lead through a Weir penalty on 20 minutes.10-0 he was to repeat this five minutes later following a scrum indiscretion.13-0
The end of the first period saw vandals have their most sustained period of possession. Without obvious cutting edge in the backs, Vandals were keeping the ball tidily. Perhaps sensing that the door was not likely to be knocked down, the Vandals fly half turned to the boot. With a deft grubber on the Cobham 22, Vandals touched down in the corner to defy the diving Kennard's defensive effort. 13-5.
With their tails wagging, Vandals sniffed a further score before half time. With what was to be their last genuine attempt on the Cobham line, promising Vandals Back Row Yates would only be denied inches from the line by a miraculous tackle from the covering Kennard. Weybridge did however add a further penalty 5 mins later to take their tally to 8. 13-8
With this chance extinguished the teams took to the sheds for the half time break. Forwards coach Gibbons would have been pleased with the set piece dominance but would have liked a tighter breakdown to protect ruck ball. DoR Pope would have been urging his troops to grab this game by the scruff...
The second half started brightly and now with a breeze at his back, fly half weir looked to turn the vandals back three. Incisive kicks were putting pressure on the stuttering Vandals lineout. It was from one such foray that a well constructed catch and drive saw Fleming score from the van seat. Converted well by Weir. 20-8
Cobham now sniffed a bonus point. Weir in conjunction with substitute full back Farrelly relentlessly kept Vandals in their own half. As the dogged Vandals defence started to fade the Cobham backs started to find some gaps. From one such break Farrelly finished off a slick move with all backs involved. 27-8.
The game, baring 2 interceptions was now over as a competition. Cobham had 12 minutes to get a fourth try and secure maximum points.
After 2 lineouts deep in the 22, Vandals would have been pleased with their stoic rearguard. Try as they might Cobham appeared unable to put together the play that would finish the job. With 2 minutes to go and Vandals exiting their 22, a penalty was conceded. Weir kicked the pen to the corner....
Vandals defended the lineout successfully only to lead to a scrum on the 5m line. Cobham had had the ascendancy in this area all game and smelt blood.
Just as with Reigatians the month prior, the timely introduction of Alexander to the front row proved decisive. Shunting the pack backwards, it lurched left and a stray boot hacked the ball into the in-goal. Captain Kennard pounced and the bonus point try was bagged. With the final whistle following Weir's kick, the job was done.
After the game Team Manager Tommy Schofield was delighted....
"The boys did a great job today. Considering the score In the first game it might have been easy to take Vandals lightly. This squads attitude has been excellent however. We have no superstars and everyone chips in"
Veteran Cowell added...
"I think we're all looking forward to a break next week! I certainly do... Especially as I've got a garage to dismantle...! We can then recharge and prep for what will be a tough outing at KCS. We then have a solid month of games that are going to decide this league. We're not looking over our shoulder, we're looking to dominate."
Cobham return to action at KCS on the 19th March.