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Cobham finish the season as it started, with victory over the OC's

Cobham travelled to Old Colfeians last September for the opening game of this challenging season and emerged 22-32 winners; if you had only watched that game and this return home fixture, where the score lines were virtually identical, you would have been forgiven for not fully understanding what transpired for the First XV in between times. Whilst Cobham finished the season in the relegation zone, this win, played out in front of the Old Surbitonians ex-Players, was warmly welcomed and well deserved.

Comparing the playing squad for this fixture reveals only six of the team from last September and the total player count for the season was 65, the highest on record. However, that number also shows the strength in-depth that the First XV can tap into, with 46 of those players coming through from the Mini and Youth sections of the Club.

The match was played in warm but very windy conditions, courtesy of Storm Kathleen and it was the wind or, more correctly, how the wind was utilised that was to prove to be the deciding factor between the two teams. With Director of Rugby Billy Davison away in South Africa and with Captain Ryan Saunders out injured, the captaincy passed to prop and Vice Captain Chris Lippiatt. Cobham gave a debut to teenager Wilf Saywell, who has recently been called up to be part of the England London & South East Under 18s squad.

OC's started strongly and, utilising the wind to gain territory, they spun the ball out wide for winger Chris Harris to touch down in the corner, and with the conversion swirling over put themselves in the lead (0-7). It needed strong tackling from full back Joe Wagg and back row Olly Fox to stem the next wave of attacks, followed by Cobham incurring their first injury of the game as winger Will Hebbes came off for a head injury and Jonny Holmes came on as a backline substitute.

Second row Andy O'Malley caused difficulties for Cobham all afternoon and the hosts second injury came for Luke Westgarth-Taylor defending his run. With Cobham down to 14 players, OC utilised the extra man for Harris to put full back Ollie Burkett over in the corner but the wind defeated the conversion (0-12). Hugh Farmer came on as substitute for Cobham.

Highlighting the toil that injuries have played this season, Cobham had one substitute left on the bench after 20 minutes but having finally achieved possession and territory, Cobham secured great lineout ball through Hales and the resulting rolling maul saw Olly Fox go over to put Cobham on the board. Fly half Will Stephen stepped up to secure the first of five successful kicks as the conversion soared between the posts (7-12).

Rory Penfold then came close to collecting his own kick ahead for a further score but was pipped literally at the posts. However, a penalty opportunity soon after gave Stephen the chance to add to his conversion (10-12). With the first half coming to an end and against the run of play, OC's scored their third try when their fly half kicked into space for winger Charlie Nagel to touch down, but the wind did not abate for Harris's conversion (10-17).

Cobham finished the first half showing their supporters why the second half was going to be a different story altogether, as they put the visitors under pressure. From a scrum in the OC's half, Penfold sent the ball down the line and Wagg ran through to touch down under the posts with the successful conversion levelling the scores (17-17).

Cobham's next 'try' came from deep in their own half, with an eventual kick ahead secured by Wagg who was impeded as he passed the ball for what would have been Sawyer's first try. Cobham did not get the score, but the visitors lost full back Burkett to a yellow card. The lineout from the penalty was won and Farmer scored the hosts third try and with his best kick of the match Stephen extended the lead (24-17).

From the kick-off, OCs received their second yellow card within minutes for a dangerous tackle on Max Hales, who was replaced by Ben Joyce. Cobham temporarily had a two man advantage but credit to OC's that they withstood the pressure that Cobham now created, with another chance for centre Osner to be disallowed due to a foot in touch.

Cobham's next opportunity came from Stephen picking up the ball from a long throw at the lineout, Muirhead cut inside and offloaded to Penfold to run 50 yards, only for a try saving tackle to bundle him into touch and a shoulder injury incurred. Wagg switched to scrum half and soon after came Sawyers delayed debut try as he found space on the wing to score (29-17). Down to 14 men, Stephen ensured the deficit was two converted tries as his successful conversion made the score to 31-17.

OC's scored a consolation try from winger Estafan Ellis, but that was the only inroads they could make as the game finished 31-22.


Director of Rugby Billy Davison would have been proud of the team's performance and as we await the decision as to which league Cobham First XV will play in next year, the club held its Player Awards Sinner, with the awards going to:-

1st XV Players Player - Louis Porter (first player to receive this award twice)

Coaches Player of the Season - Olly Fox

2nd XV Player of the Season - George O’Connor

Club Man of the Season - Ian Snead & Luke Bliss

AllStar of the Season - Julian Clarke

Cobham 1st Squad:-

1. Chris Lippiatt (Capt.)

2. Andy Muirhead

3. Luke Bliss

4. Luke Westgarth-Taylor

5. Max Hales

6. Korbyn Sherrington

7. Olly Fox

8. Louis Porter

9. Rory Penfold

10. Will Stephen

11. Wilf Saywell*

12. Michael Osner

13. Taylor Burnett

14. Will Hebbes

15. Joe Wagg


Substitutes:

16. Ben Joyce

17. Hugh Farmer

18. Jonny Holmes


*Debut


Scorers:

Tries: Fox, Wagg, Farmer, Saywell

Conversions: Stephen (4)

Penalty: Stephen




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