HAC (Honourable Artillery Company) RFC went into this match having recorded their best result of the season the previous week with an away win at league leaders Westcombe Park (31-38). With Cobham RFC having slipped up at Beckenham, it was difficult to predict the result before kick-off.
Storm Jorge welcomed both teams onto the pitch, buffeting Theo Buffini who led Cobham out to win his 50th cap. HAC, who are looking to get out of the relegation zone, picked up where they left off the previous week and retained possession in Cobham territory early-on; centre George Shiel making some incisive runs to test the Cobham defence.
It took Cobham the whole of the first quarter before they took the game to HAC. George Tunnacliffe and James MacDonald broke the visitors line, but ultimately it was the pack who gained the opening score as they took advantage of a scrum in front of the posts; number 8 Jake McQuade drove over for a try that Tom Farrelly converted (7-0).
An infringement from HAC provided the opportunity to kick for touch and with Louis Porter securing possession at the lineout ball, Buffini celebrated his milestone performance with Cobham’s second try, which Farrelly converted once again (14-0). A penalty just before half-time provided Cobham with a healthy cushion at the break (17-0).
Storm Jorge had abated during the first half but returned with a vengeance after the break and Cobham took advantage of the conditions to increase the pressure. That resulted in a yellow card for HAC and with the extra player, captain Ryan Saunders scored Cobham’s third try of the afternoon; Farrelly adding the extras (24-0).
There were 1st XV debuts for centre Ben Harper and fly half Ben Bayly, as Cobham looked to be securing a clean sheet for the first time this season. However, in chasing an elusive bonus point try with only minutes to go, HAC went over for a consolation try and make the final score 24-5.
Cobham retain fifth place in the table but now have a two week break before a tough conclusion to the season, including away games at Westcombe Park and Medway
Director of Rugby Steve Pope said: “This was a really good response from the boys, after a very poor performance at Beckenham. The weather did its best to hinder both sides, however the contrast in our physical presence and game management across the team was back to where we need it.”
“There is still lots to work on and, as I've been saying for some time, loads of rugby to be played. Our focus remains to get as high up the log as we can, and top three is our target. The two boys on debut, Ben Harper and Ben Bayly, have both been playing well for the 2nd XV this season and thoroughly deserved their first game time.”
“A 50th cap for Theo Buffini, who has been outstanding for us in all of the positions he has played. Congratulations to him on a massive achievement in such a relatively short period of time. He encompasses what I hope the club becomes recognised for as a Cobham player and person. He’s a great guy on and off the field, very humble, who works hard for the team and is happy to be part of whichever side he's playing for.”
“I look forward to getting back into action after a two-week break, and hope that the competition for starting spots continues to increase as we build towards the remaining fixtures.”
Cobham 1st XV Squad
1. Luke Bliss
2. Andrew Murphy
3. Mario Zakakiotis
4. Sam Matcham
5. Louis Porter
6. Olly Fox
7. Theo Buffini
8. Jake McQuade
9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)
10. Tom Farrelly
11. Max MacDonald
12. George Tunnacliffe
13. James MacDonald
14. Rory Penfold
15. Dan Allchurch
16. Ryan Aujla
17. Ben Harper
18. Ben Bayly
Tries: McQuade, Buffini, Saunders
Conversions: Farrelly x 3
Man of Match (Sponsored by George & Dragon, Thames Ditton): Luke Bliss