Cobham overcame a gritty and improved Old Reigatian’s side to extend their lead at the top of London 2SW to 17 points. The Four-try bonus point win, with dropped points from closest rivals Winchester and London Cornish, leave Cobham with a growing buffer going into the final quarter of the campaign.
The previous encounter with OR’s at the Fairmile proved to be a physical affair played in less than ideal conditions for both sides. The return fixture followed a similar theme as persistent drizzle and a soft pitch hampered the expansive rugby Cobham have been developing.
Despite the expected soft surface the excellent OR’s facilities are nearing re-completion. This meant a warm and friendly welcome for the visiting supporters who had made their way around the m25.
Coming off of a heavy away defeat to Winchester, Reigatian’s would be looking to put in a stronger showing at home to give their stuttering season some much needed momentum. Knowing that the previous encounter only broke for Cobham in the second half, DoR Steve Pope would be hoping for a quicker start this time around.
He may have thought his wishes had been granted as Full Back Jean-Louis Gravier scythed through the OR’s defense after a wayward clearance from the kick off. Feeding Centre Charlie Rooke in the tackle from the covering full back, Rooke sped in to score. 1 minute in, 0-5.
No sooner had the game recommenced lightening struck twice for OR’s. Once more Gravier punished a poor clearance and broke the line. Who else but Rooke, on hand to finish the trick. This time converted by weir into a stiff breeze. 0-12. Gravier would be forced off after a twisted knee in the challenge bringing club stalwart Dave Flower to the fray…
The writing may well have been on the wall at this point if it were not for committed Reigatian work at the breakdown, plus a hint of Cobham over-playing. Conceding a penalty just inside their half Cobham would be punished for their indiscipline as the kick pushed OR’s towards the 5m line. After the lineout take the OR’s pack converted a well-drilled set piece to pile over in the corner. This was successfully converted bring the game back into a contest. 7-12.
This phase kicked started OR’s most productive period of the game. Gaining some change from the scrum, Reigatians quickly followed the try with a converted penalty from in front. 10-12 game on. Centre Calum Willaims was then forced to withdraw through injury. No.8 Trepant shuffled to Inside Centre, a role he has filled with brutal success in several previous games. Ed Knights filled the back row void.
The remaining half saw Cobham unable to gain the territory required to punish OR’s on the board and Reigatians remained unable to build the phases required to break the Cobham line. Following the trading of penalties both sides disappeared inside for a sit down with all to play for. 13-15
The message would have been clear from DoR Pope and coach Walsh – play in the right areas, up the physicality and the rest will take care of itself.
They would have been please to see their instructions borne out in the opening 10 minutes of the half. Fly half Weir repeatedly pinning OR’s in their 22 with the use of the growing wind. The pressure led to 2 quick fire penalties slotted home by Weir. 13-21
It seemed that Cobham now had OR’s in a choke-hold with the home side unable to successfully clear or maintain possession. DoR Pope then emptied his bench bringing Prop Andy Alexander to the fray. The well-timed intervention of the ex-Esher prop gave the referee no choice but to award a scrum penalty try under the posts. 13-28.
What was a tight affair now swung fully towards the visitors who searched for the try bonus point to seal the win. Scrum half Kennard was now starting to find some space around the tiring OR’s breakdown. It was from one such blindside snipe that Kennard found Rooke in the tightest of channels. Lovely soft hands set the ever threatening James MacDonald tip-toeing down the line. Finding the Captain Kennard on his inside, MacDonald popped across for Kennard to touchdown for a rare try.
The team celebrated both a great score and bagging the full points on offer. The final minutes saw Cobham go again and without hugely committed defense would have scored another try before the final whistle. All testament to Reigatian’s stoic efforts on the day.
Captain Kennard was pleased with the victory and the depth his new squad is growing.
“We didn’t quite play in the right areas in the first half and may have underestimated the elements. We new Reigatian’s wouldn’t lie down and that certainly proved the case. In the second half we applied pressure in the right areas and this proved decisive.”
Coach Walsh was delighted with the squad effort
“Our bench made a really telling impact today. Dave Flower pulled the strings nicely, Ed knights was everywhere and Andy Alexander did exactly what was required in the set piece. To be successful in the Spring you need a strong, cohesive squad. We have made many player changes over this season but the one constant has been the physical commitment shown. That’s what we will bring next week without doubt.”
The victory sets the squad up for their much-anticipated National Cup fixture away to Sevenoaks RFC. Sevenoaks currently sit 2nd in the adjacent London 2 League and lost out to 4th place Deal & Betteshanger this weekend. All support greatly appreciated and coach will be travelling from the club.