Cobham continued their winning start to the season with a hard fought 12-19 away victory over Andover.
Their newly promoted hosts were clearly a competitive and physical side and had had only just come up short against teams expected to sit at the top of London SW2.
Dave Baker moved from the back row to lock allowing talented Cobham youth product Matt Koep to make his debut at 6. James MacDonald slid to outside centre providing the backline with even more pace and cutting edge.
Playing down a fairly acute slope in the first half, it seemed that Cobham may have left some of the accuracy displayed against Portsmouth the weekend prior on the bus. Despite the lion share of possession and territory that was to follow, Andover struck first scoring under the posts. This promoted a change of gear and Cobham preceded to make good yards when putting phases together. Still the final pass went begging until got Max MacDonald crossed out wide to get them on the board 7-5.
The game preceded to be played in the Andover half as the home team battled for ground and the visitors searched to put the elusive last pass together.
Cobham eventually made their ball retention and phase play tell 5 minutes before the break as elusive full back Wehbe finished off a series of crisp passing from forwards and backs. 7-12 at half time reflected the games attritional nature. Andover would have surely thought that if they used their second half advantage well that this score line was manageable. Cobham would need to keep the ball better and prevent getting isolated.
The second half started brightly and saw Koep move to 8 following an injury to vice captain Trepant. It seemed the half time chat had done its work as Cobham retuned with increased vigour and composure.
Now playing up the hill, having to keep the ball alive suited Cobham. After the early arm wrestle Wehbe once again brook free and touched down under the posts. 7-19
Despite creating a buffer on the score board the young Cobham side new they would have to dig deep to see themselves over the line. The Andover pack, despite lacking in quality possession where able to gain ground when they achieved multiple phases greatly aided by the slope. Despite this, Cobham’s defensive resilience, a feature of the early games of the season, looked sturdy. It held out until with five minutes to go Andover crossed out wide to make for what might have been a tense finish.12-19 It looked to get even tighter when a penalty was conceded on the edge of the Cobham 22 with minutes remaining. Looking at holding out a five meter lineout to secure the points, Cobham and especially forwards coach Dan Walsh we're delighted to see the resulting kick end up dead in goal. Quite a let off. Despite a Hairy end, Coach Walsh was delighted with the win.
Andover are a big physical side who made us work for every inch today. This will be a hard place to come and get points for every side and credit to them. I think we had a bit more cutting edge out wide and the pack manned up and put in a decent shift. It was great to see matt Koep get man if the match on debut. Testament to the unrivalled youth set up we have at the club.
Director of Rugby Steve Pope added...
It's great to see this team roll it's sleeves up as well as flair and width that we want to be known for. To win anything you have to have the grit to come to challenging places and scrap it out, especially in the winter months. Credit to Andover, solid set of boys who fought hard for every minute.
Cobham take a break next week ahead of what looks to be a top of the table clash against ex Cobham boy Matt Johnson's London Cornish. Saturday 24th October back on the premier pitch fresh from World Cup duty. One not to be missed.