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Cobham fall short as London South 1 action returns to the Memorial Grounds

In perfect conditions, a large crowd of supporters welcomed back Cobham’s first and second teams to the Memorial Grounds. The Cobham 1st XV were looking to build on their winning start to the season the previous week against Farnham, as they played their first home match since February 2020. Although the result went against the home side, it was so reassuring and enjoyable to see club rugby return to Cobham after Covid-19 restrictions cancelled the 2020/21 season.

In the intervening 18 months, Cobham RFC now has new Principal Club sponsors, solicitors Russell Cooke and first XV Senior sponsors, Mattioli Woods PLC so it was inevitable that the team ran onto the pitch sporting new branded shirts.

Guildford are new to London South 1 having been relegated from SE Premier when the 2019/20 season was brought to halt, but by defeating Horsham 36-16 the previous week they had laid down a marker that they want to return to the league from whence they came.

Cobham opened the scoring when Farrelly slotted over the first penalty of the match (3-0) but the visitors, having laid siege to on Cobham’s line, took advantage of a quick tap penalty for second row Foley to go over.

Farrelly quickly restored the lead with a well taken penalty (6-5) but Guildford broke Cobham’s defence line allowing centre Christian King to score (6-10). Cobham’s Dan Allchurch made the first of a couple of blazing runs, but when possession was lost Guildford’s Luke Evans ran half the length of the pitch to extend the lead with a converted try (6-17).

The hosts clawed their way back into the match when Captain Ryan Saunders broke the Guildford defence and with Farrelly converting the lead had been reduced to a single score (13-17). Within minutes, the deficit was cut to just one point when Farrelly retained a perfect record and took advantage of another penalty (16-17). Game on.

Having got to within touching distance, Cobham lost hooker Jake McQuade to a suspected hamstring injury that required a swift reorganisation from Director of Rugby Steve Pope; Ben Joyce switched to hooker and Sam Matcham leaping from back row to front row. Then just before half-time, Guildford extended their advantage when debutant Will Vincent went over in the corner (16-22).

Shortly after the restart, Guildford secured a kickable penalty but chose instead to kick for touch. Despite a successful lineout and maul, they were not able to convert their territorial advantage and possession into points. Cobham’s escape was short lived however as the Guildford scrum half Jones broke the line for another runaway try (16-27).

Having lost their captain and scrum half Saunders to a rib injury, substitute Tiernan White took advantage of some sustained possession and from a quickly taken penalty, dived over under the posts for a score that Farrelly converted (23-27). Cobham were certainly not giving up and were giving their supporters something to cheer after so many lost months. Ultimately, it was to be a victory for Guildford when their winger raced over; the successful conversion made the final score 23-34.

Director of Rugby, Steve Pope said: “Week two of a new season and great to be back at home in league competition. We came up second today on a few very flexible things and, as is everyone, we are working our way back into weekly rugby. Well done to Guildford as they managed to capitalise on a number of our mistakes if not all of them. We will look to work on those areas and hopefully the injuries to all three of the lads today are not as bad as they see.”

“We will look at the footage and work on those areas that need additional attention. We are currently looking at a good body of players all pushing to start in the firsts and seconds. It does feel like the high level competition in training is making everyone aware of competition for places across all teams. Well done to everyone as we can't fault the effort and application. We had players returning, most of whom have not played for some considerable time.”

“We had a number of debuts before these players head off to university, and it was great to see lots on new talent coming through into the senior teams. Unfortunately, we didn't really get much from that result today, but we are very much aware of what we want to build towards this season on and off the field. There’s lots of very exciting rugby to come from this group of players over the coming season, that I'm sure of. We look forward to the return fixture at Guildford and now turn our focus to another two tough fixtures ahead.”

Cobham travel to league leaders Chichester this Saturday (18 September). In their most recent encounters, Cobham won 29-18 at home but lost a tight encounter away 23-20.

The second XV secured a great win against Guildford’s second XV by 51-17, scoring nine tries.

Cobham 1st XV Squad:

1. Luke Bliss

2. Jake McQuade

3. Ben Joyce

4. Wesley Van De Ploeg

5. Joe Goddard

6. Nathan Spratt

7. Ben Keast

8. Sam Matcham

9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)

10. Tom Farrelly

11. Max MacDonald

12. Johnny Holmes

13. George Tunnicliffe

14. Dan Allchurch

15. Ryan Penfold Substitutes:-

16. Will White (Debut)

17. Will O’Leary (Debut) 18. Tiernan White

Scorers:- Tries: Saunders, T. White

Conversions: Farrelly (2)

Penalties: Farrelly (3)

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