Returning home after a disappointing visit to league leaders Chichester, Cobham’s 1st XV faced Battersea Ironsides at the Memorial Grounds for the first time following the visitors promotion to London South.
Director of Rugby Steve Pope had to make a number of forced changes to the squad as a consequence of injuries and players heading off to University and unfortunately this match didn't help that injury list.
The first ten minutes saw the visitors kick two penalties and score a breakthrough try to lead 0-11, with all the play in the home side's half and naturally there was some concern that Ironsides were going to run away with the game. Slowly but surely Cobham clawed their way back into it, with Farrelly converting a penalty (3-11) before an injury to hooker Rawding brought Aujla off the bench in the front row. The hosts then enjoyed their best period of the match. Following 15 minutes of pressure Penfold was held-up just short of the line but the resulting scrum saw number 8 Fielding push over to put Cobham firmly back into the game as Farrelly added the extras that cut the deficit to a point (10-11).
A further penalty attempt hit the post but its retrieval by Ironsides was knocked-on and from the resultant scrum, Fielding made it a brace of tries that Farrelly again converted to put Cobham ahead (17-11). Just before half-time Fielding was yellow carded - somewhat harshly - for what appeared to be an attempted interception and from the resultant penalty the visitors made the score 17-14.
14 man Cobham weathered the storm for the first ten minutes of the second half and Farrelly added to his penalty count by extending the lead to 20-14 but sadly, other than one further penalty, Ironsides took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 'third half'. A converted try, penalty followed by a breakaway try by their winger opened up a two-score advantage (20-31).
Penfold had moved to scrum half and Farmer came off the bench briefly before sustaining an injury. With all substitutes used, Max MacDonald returned to the pitch although still struggling with an injury.
Farrelly retrieved a penalty (23-31) but it was Ironsides who were to control the game to the final whistle, with their centre breaking the line for a converted try (23-38) before a final interception try made the final score 23-45.
The withdrawal of Haywards Heath from the league means there are still some unplayed fixtures but after four games it is becoming apparent that there are some strong teams emerging. Cobham travel to new league leaders London Welsh this Saturday (2 October) as they make their way back through the amateur leagues. This will be another first time fixture for Cobham and all support will be welcome.
Director of Rugby Steve Pope said: "Unfortunately we weren't able to deliver the performance we needed today, against a direct and physical Battersea side. We have not started our league campaign well. However, I am looking at a much bigger picture with this group of players and the wider playing group.”
“We have lots of areas we need to address along with lots of positives to build on. We will hopefully stay on a level keel, win or lose. There is no doubt about the level of effort boys are showing; we just need to look at some areas around our game management. We have over 20 players injured or unavailable from our regular groups. With a long season ahead, we will keep working to improve and develop the whole group.”
“Another big week ahead, travelling to Old Deer Park, which is an exciting opportunity for the boys. Well done to Battersea who were good for their win today. We forward to the return fixture later in the season.”
Cobham 1st XV Squad:
1. Luke Bliss
2. Toby Rawding
3. Ben Joyce
4. Doug Rodman
5. Wesley Van Der Ploeg
6. Nathan Spratt
7. Ollie Fox
8. Oliver Fielding
9. Tiernan White
10. Tom Farrelly
11. Max MacDonald
12. Ben Harper
13. James McDonald (Capt.)
14. Rory Penfold
15. George Tunnacliffe Substitutes:-
16. Ryan Aujla
17. Hugh Farmer
18. Brandon Bowden
Scorers:- Tries: Fielding ( 2)
Conversions: Farrelly ( 2)
Penaties: Farrelly (3)