With recent heavy rain making the Ironside's pitch unplayable, it was agreed to play the match at Cobham. With the 2nd XV squad also at home and Harlequins Ladies Under 18s taking on Exeter Chiefs, it was a full house of fixtures at Fairmile Lane. A two-minute silence was held before each of the matches ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Cobham kicked off and Louis Porter, chasing the ball down, forced a knock-on by the visitors to give Cobham field position but despite many phases, Ironside's defence was too good and a penalty was given for holding on. It led to what was a simple try; a decent kick to touch and lineout possession won, followed a few phases before their winger went over in the corner to give Cobham a wake-up call (0-7). Cobham needed to respond and from a resultant penalty, they set-up an attacking lineout but sadly lost possession and Ironsides attacked through their pacy back three, as they would all match.
Porter was penalised for a high tackle and Battersea went for the posts for what we assumed would be an easy three points. However, the ball hit the post and bounced to Will Stephen, who unfortunately knocked on to give the visitors a great attacking scrum. But great pressure from the Cobham pack made for scruffy ball and when Max Franks picked it up, the referee called not out, and awarded a penalty. Again a scrum and Ironsides went blind, where Gresham Lynn made a try saving tackle and Cobham escaped. But they were soon under pressure again when a great kick to the corner by Ironside's fly half gave Cobham a defensive lineout five metres from their line. Great drills saw them win it, drive it and clear to 30 metres out. Cobham were still in their own half and another penalty for hands, saw Ironsides go for goal (0-10).
Cobham needed to get their attack going and a scrum on halfway gave theme that opportunity, but when Jake picked and went, he was stripped by the scrum half. A kick into the corner ensued and a kind bounce allowed the right winger to run in unopposed (0-15).
The pressure was relentless and another penalty conceded, Ironsides once again kicked to the corner and a great position, but intense pressure from Joe Goddard, a ball not straight decision and good defensive drills allowed Cobham to escape. But not for long, as the ball was returned, a knock-on and then a first phase try when the Battersea 12 hit a great line off the fly half and despite Stephens best effort, forced his way over (0-22).
Porter and Fox (sounds like a Legal company?) chased the kick-off as ever, only for the Ironsides number eight to collect and drive forward. From the kick through, Penfold was willing the ball to go dead but correctly decided to touch it down with the Ironsides winger right behind him. Goal line drop out. Back the visitors came once again and another scoring opportunity created, but thankfully the kick through for the winger to chase went dead.
With play on the halfway line, Cobham mounted an attack and the Cobham diehards behind the Clubhouse posts, started to get excited about seeing the ball; a knock-on killed that and when Ironsides kicked down field, they won a 50-22. Great defence again from the Cobham pack saved the day but a thumping tackle from Goddard on the number 8 was deemed too high and resulted in a harsh yellow card. So another defensive lineout and good drills from the visitors saw the hooker score and open up a commanding lead at half time (0-27).
The second half was a vastly different affair, although it was Ironsides who scored first. After a bout of average kicking by both sides, Battersea decided to run the ball and it took them a while to get through the Cobham defence but they looked after possession well before eventually scoring in the left-hand corner (0-34). Impressively, Cobham were not about to drop their heads.
Finally, Battersea made the mistake we'd been waiting for and a knock-on gave Cobham a decent field position. Good ball, some good lines from the backs saw Stephens nearly go over, but recycled possession on the opposition line and after many picks and goes, Lippiatt went over and for what was a great way to celebrate your first game as Captain.
I remember Chris arriving as an Under 15 to join his mates on a Sunday morning and played initially as a centre but here he was as Captain of the 1st XV some 12 years later - a great and typical Cobham story.
Another Battersea knock-on gave Cobham a scrum on half-way and we were now back to 15 players, as Will Hebbes came on for Stephen. Suddenly we looked a different team and a solid scrum and decent interpassing, as Hebbes was there to surely score but he opted to pass and the ball went astray.
Ironsides ran it from their own line but Penfold had their kick covered and his own resulted in a 50-22. A well won lineout, driving to the line, was pulled down just short, so a Cobham penalty, tap and go seeing Lippiatt going over for his second try. Both were a combined total of five metres but I’m sure that will improve with time. It was now 12-34 with 25 minutes to go, but Ironsides hadn't totally gone away and despite some great pressure from the Cobham pack, their number 8 picked up under pressure and made ground and then after many passes and off loads, another score in the corner (12-41).
Battersea won the kick-off and kicked into touch inside our twenty-two but fly half Johnny Holmes who had a very solid game, cleared from the line out to halfway. It was Battersea who were now conceding penalties and making mistakes and an offside call gave us a penalty. Bliss and Lippiatt gave way for subs Ryan Aujla and Felix Lowe. The lineout was won and a massive charge from Lowe was halted by a great tackle and Cobham were deemed to be holding on. Still the team continued to show great spirit and they stole the resulting lineout and got a penatly for high tackle. Deep into the visitors twenty-two, another driving maul was again pulled down but Cobham ran the ball and a great line from Jake saw him cut through the Battersea defence like a knife through butter! (19-41).
Cobham kept pressing and finally the referee lost patience with Ironsides and a yellow was given to their sub who had just come on. He's a back row but can play prop so with him off and the starting props injured, it was uncontested scrums but they had to play a man down. After many phases in their twenty-two, Felix had a charge and was unstoppable. The conversion was added (24-41) but more importantly, this was a fourth try and bonus point. Both sides had chances in the last few minutes but that was to be the final result.
This was great entertainment (for the neutral!) and Battersea are clearly a very good side with good strength in most departments, so you'd have to say deserved their win. However, despite a mounting injury list this season, Cobham still managed to field a side that never gave up and pushed them all the way in the second half and, indeed, won it 24-14. Maybe we paid the visitors too much respect in the first half and kicked them too much ball to run back, so there's a few things to work on in the week but the team spirit shone through and they certainly never lost hope. Fair play to them for that.
Congratulations to Cobham’s 2nd XV, who won the battle of ‘H’ 24-20 against Chobham. The result leaves the 2nd XV joint top with Farnham in their respective league.
Congratulations to Harlequins Ladies Under 18’s Centre of Excellence who beat Exeter Chiefs 79-0. Harlequins were led by Cobham’s very Own Emily Lunn.
Cobham 1st XV Squad:-
1. Chris Lippiatt (Capt.)
2. Dave Stewart
3. Luke Bliss
4. Wesley Van Der Ploeg
5. Joe Goddard
6. Louis Porter
7. Olly Fox
8. Jake McQuade
9. Max Franks
10. Jonny Holmes
11. Max MacDonald
12. Will Stephen
13. Taylor Burnett
14. Gresham Lynn
15. Rory Penfold
16. Ryan Aujla
17. Felix Lowe
18. Will Hebbes
Tries: Lippiatt (2) McQuade, Lowe
Conversions: Holmes (2)