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Camberley stage second half fightback to claim league win

Cobham Director of Rugby Steve Pope cut a frustrated figure at the end of his side’s 39-30 thrilling home defeat to London One South promotion chasers Camberley (Saturday 6 November).

The Fairmile Lane club had opened up a 23-5 lead by the early stages of the second half, taking advantage of playing against 13 men following yellow cards to Camberley’s blindside flanker Ben Lovell-Smith, for an accumulation of team penalties, and outside centre Ash Wright, for dissent.

However, when Camberley returned to full strength, Cobham found them down to 14 when openside flanker Louis Porter was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as the visitors piled the pressure on the hosts line. Gareth Rise’s men ran in three converted tries during that spell and they never really let their grasp on the game slip from then on in.

However, the Cobham chief warned his players that Camberley would come out all guns blazing in the second period and felt that his side should have been a little more savvy and put the game to bed.

“As a rugby fan there was some good stuff played there,” Pope said. “They (Camberley) did apply pressure in the second half but I was more frustrated that we didn’t close it out and put enough distance between us before the end. I think Louis’ yellow card, which I thought was harsh - but I will have to look at, was a real issue for us. They really got their gander up and my frustration is that it (the game) was there for the taking.”

Cobham started well on Saturday as they looked to take full advantage of Camberley’s lack of discipline in the early stages. The hosts were also dominant at the coal-face as they constantly drove Camberley back. Two impressive long range penalties from Cobham inside centre Tom Farrelly gave the hosts a 6-0 lead.

The hosts were winning the forward battle as Camberley racked up the penalty count and the visiting skipper Tom Chennell was spoken to by the referee on a number of occasions to get his side in check. However, it was Camberley, who moved up to second in the table after this success, saw Wright run in for the game’s first try, which went unconverted.

Camberley were reduced to 14 men in the 33rd minute after the referee’s patience had worn thin with the number of penalties that the visitors were conceding and Lovell-Smith took the yellow for the team as he strayed offside.

Cobham then lay siege to the Camberley defence and Luke Bliss was driven over for the hosts' first try of the match. It was as the players got to their feet that Wright joined his team-mate in the bin for dissent before Farrelly added extras for the hosts.

Cobham’s superiority at the scrum was capped off just before half-time when number eight Jake McQuade dived on the ball from a scrum after the hosts had driven Camberley back over the line to take an 18-5 lead into the break.

Cobham stretched their advantage early in the second half when Dan Allchurch ghosted through two tackles to touchdown in the corner as the host led 23-5 with 38 minutes to play. Then three minutes later a moment of madness from Porter swung the game in Camberley’s favour. The openside broke from the defensive line to try and block a pass and appeared to slap the ball into the ground.

The flanker was promptly yellow carded and Cobham were perhaps a little fortunate that a penalty try was not awarded there and then. But that is where their luck ran out. Camberley then saw Greg Franzel, Josh Watson and Oyoni Gbla cross the whitewash, with Harry Faulkner converting all three to give the visitors a 26-23 lead. The Camberley fly-half added a penalty before the home side saw McQuade dive over for his team’s bonus point try following a driving maul from a lineout to restore the Cobham lead.

However, a slick backs move saw Faulkner bag his team’s fifth try and the match with 12 minutes left on the clock and with time running out he added the penalty to give his side the win.

Cobham will aim to bounce back on Friday night (12 November) when they make the short trip across Surrey to KCS Old Boys.

Report courtesy of Michael Reeves | Leatherhead Advertiser

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