Cobham ran-in seven tries when they met London Cornish at home last year but will have noted that their opponents on Saturday (29 January) had won two of their last four games, including a victory against this week’s opponents Guildford.
The home side were looking to lift themselves from the bottom of the league with a win and it was apparent, not only from the opening 15 minutes of play, but throughout the whole game that they will achieve that objective against any team that does not have the solid defence, which the visitors provided.
Cobham put themselves on the (virtual) scoreboard when a lineout and drive enabled Andrew Murphy to touch down and Farrelly to convert (0-7). However, Cornish responded immediately when an infringement in the Cobham twenty-two enabled Captain George Kimmins to slot over the penalty (3-7).
Cobham's scrum looked solid, Goddard and Rodman were providing consistent ball from the lineouts, while McQuade and Fox were always looking to burrow their way forward. However, Cornish obtained an advantage when Cobham lost second row Louis Porter to a yellow card infringement. The extra man advantage enabled their pressure on the Cobham line to be converted into points when back row Ed McCord ran over and Kimmins converted to put the hosts in front (10-7). Farrelly put Cobham back on level terms with a penalty (10-10) and there was at this stage nothing between the sides.
Cobham have perfected their lineout takes and the subsequent rolling maul this season and their next score utilised this successful play over 20 metres, which provided Rodman with a touch down, converted by Farrelly (10-17). Cornish missed a penalty to bring themselves back into a game that Cobham were now looking to dominate and further pressure provided Max MacDonald with a score that Farrelly again converted (10-24).
Pressure from Cornish was relieved when Porter ripped the ball and Farrelly cleared as half-time was called. Cobham will have been pleased with their all round play but have seen first half leads eroded this season, so Director of Rugby Steve Pope will have been pleased to see his side step up a gear over the second 40 minutes and play some of their best rugby of the season.
Utilising all his substitutes Pope provided McQuade, Flower and Aujla with breaks as Matcham, Bushell and Penfold who all made an impact. Farrelly maintained his 100% record with a low penalty to extend the lead (10-27) but in between withstanding pressure from the Cornish back line, Cobham ran in the first of two stunning tries worthy of full description.
The first resulted from a Goddard steal at a lineout in the Cobham twenty two which Saunders passed to Rory Penfold. Linking up with centre Jonny Holmes, the play was taken firstly into the Cornish half and then from full back Fin Savill into the Cornish twenty-two. Although a kick ahead was collected by Cornish their pass was intercepted by Farrelly who offloaded to back row Porter for a try under the posts. After extended injury time for a Cornish player, Holmes converted to extend the visitors advantage (10-34).
It was credit to Cornish that the scoreline was not distracting them from their own attacking style of play and there followed a frenetic period of play, as both sides retained the possession they achieved and took the ball across the field looking to break through. It was an intercept by Savill on the halfway line and an offload out of the tackle to Dan Allchurch, who score under the posts that secured Cobham's fifth try of the match; Flower converted (10-41).
Cornish secured a consolation score just before the final whistle when hooker Tony Pellow scored and Kimmins converted to provide a final scoreline of 17-41. The win takes Cobham into ninth position with only 4 points separating six teams in the middle of the table
Pope said: “Really good performance today. The boys all responded from last week’s game with London Welsh and Cornish are a better side than their current position suggests, and I'm sure they will cause lots of sides problems. We focused on our game today and it was refreshing to see us get the balance of tight and expansive play right. Very pleased with our set-piece and our physicality this week was much better and where we expected it to be. We scored some really nice tries in both open running and tight phases.” “It is very tight across the league, points wise in the middle block. I really hope, as do the boys that they can see scope for us to push all the teams we have to play. The focus is on us and really work hard to ensure we are at right end of table come end of season by playing our way. Fingers crossed for those returning from injuries to be fit soon and for ski season to be short lived; this will help build the competition we need across the senior teams.”
Cobham 1st XV Squad:
1. Ryan Aujla
2. Andrew Murphy
3. Luke Bliss
4. Doug Rodman
5. Joe Goddard
6. Louis Porter
7. Oliver Fox
8. Jake McQuade
9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)
10. Tom Farrelly
11. Max MacDonald
12. Jonny Holmes
13. Luke Flower
14. Dan Allchurch
15. Fin Savill
16. Sam Matcham
17. Ryan Bushell
18. Rory Penfold
Tries: Murphy, Rodman, MacDonald, Porter, Allchurch
Conversions: Farrelly (3), Holmes, Flower
Penalties: Farrelly (2)