Cobham 1st XV returned to the Memorial Grounds after a weekend break and their very creditable performance away against league champions London Welsh. And they provided their supporters, who had enjoyed the Ex-Players Lunch, with their best points tally since the final game of the 2017/18 season when they had defeated Thurrock 54-36.
There were home debuts for Luke Westgarth-Taylor and Darren Clayton, as Cobham dominated the opening ten minutes. The territorial advantage saw them secure an early penalty from Braithwaite and a pushover try from number 8 Doug Rodman, set up by the first of many lineout takes by second row Joe Goddard. Braithwaite converted to put the hosts 10-0 ahead.
Having been rocked back by the initial onslaught, the visitors settled and pushed Cobham back into their half, but it was always going to difficult when advantage could not be taken of their lineouts. There was a short period where every play from both sides was to kick for advantage but following a missed penalty and a lineout steal, Clayton was presented with the opportunity to run through the visitor’s defence and score a converted try (17-0).
Cobham's passing all afternoon was of a very high standard and although they conceded a long range penalty to Cornish, the back line looked commanding. Scrum half Tiernan White featured in the next two scores, deftly offloading to full back Dan Allchurch to score under the posts before breaking the Cornish defence himself for a try that put Cobham into a dominant 31-3 lead.
That looked to be game over for London Cornish despite Rodman being held-up, only for a further penalty from Braithwaite to start the second half as the first half had finished. As is often the case with rugby, you can never write a side off and for the 20 twenty minutes Cornish camped out in the Cobham 22. Looking composed and sharp, Cornish tested Cobham across the width of the field. Although this period of play was not what Director of Rugby Steve Pope will have wanted to see, it did demonstrate the success of all the time that spent put into the defensive line training.
When Cobham were able to break out of their half and obtain a lineout, Goddard's take ultimately ensured that hooker Ben Joyce could get himself onto the score sheet close to the posts (41-3). In the final quarter, Cornish were able to take advantage of their possession and territorial advantage to gain their opening try, but Cobham responded ruthlessly; firstly, releasing the ball across the back line to put Rory Penfold in at the corner and with the half century in sight, winger Max MacDonald teared down the line and off loaded to Allchurch for his second try (53-10). There was time left for Cornish to claim a further consolation score, but this was a comprehensive display by Cobham. Final score 53-17.
Director of Rugby, Steve Pope said: “Very pleasing to see lads build on the performance at Welsh, with a win. We are very mindful everything we are doing this season is building towards a fun and enjoyable club environment with simple values at the heart of it. We were able to field two strong sides this weekend and it's our hope that as more players return to fitness, we will have a really competitive group driving the rugby forwards.”
“Well done to Cornish; we always enjoy their company and it is always a decent match. Today we were on the right side of the score line, but I'm sure they will build as the season progresses and we wish them well. Congratulations to our boys; rest up before we go again next weekend.”
Cobham 1st XV Squad:
1. Ryan Aujla
2. Ben Joyce
3. Luke Bliss
4. Wesley Van Der Pleog
5. Joe Goddard
6. Luke Westgarth-Taylor
7. Nathan Spratt
8. Doug Rodman
9. Tiernan White
10. Ant Braithwaite
11. James MacDonald
12. Darren Clayton
13. George Tunnicilffe (Captain)
14. Rory Penfold
15. Dan Allchurch
16. Chris Lippiatt
17. Ben Keast
18. Max MacDonald
Tries: Rodman, Clayton, Allchurch (2) White, Joyce, Penfold
Conversions: Braithwaite (6)
Penalties: Braithwaite (2)