London Irish Wild Geese 22 Farnham 0: FARNHAM, who lost to promotion favourites Camberley the week before, showed they can live at London Division 1 South level – if only they could cut the error count!
Welcoming back the trio of Salmon brothers and the last-minute return of Steve ‘Animal’ Simmons, Farnham had a good opportunity to add to their points tally against a London Irish side one place below.
However, playing into a stiff, chilling wind in the first half on a dry firm pitch, it was going to be tough for the Black and Whites.
Time and again, Farnham received possession deep in their own half and strung together three or four phases of play. Their backs and forwards showed good skills, particularly the half-back pairing of Harry West and Tim Salmon.
However, that possession was lost each time Farnham reached the opposition’s territory through penalty infringements or the ball being spilled.
Farnham’s defence held out for most of the first period and their scrum began to gain fierce superiority.
With two minutes to go before the break, Farnham launched an attack from a line-out and drove into the Irish half – only to concede a penalty for holding on.
Using the wind to great advantage, the Irish flyhalf kicked to within five metres of the Farnham goal line. The throw to the middle of the line was caught and the maul set.
The Farnham pack initially resisted well but the maul spun toward the posts allowing the Irish number eight Ed Harte to dive for the line and score the first try of the game. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
In the final minute of the half Farnham reached the Irish 22 for only the third time in 40 minutes but the opportunity was lost when the supporting players knocked on.
After the interval Farnham defended solidly and the scrum remained dominant until they lost second row Jamie Low, one of the best performers of the day.
The reduced intensity of the wind allowed the Irish, from yet another penalty, to kick to the left-hand touch line well within the Farnham 22. With another secure catch and drive, Harte broke away, charging 15 yards to score. This time the conversion was successful to make the score 12-0.
The game returned to its error-strewn pattern although Farnham were unlucky not the breach the Irish defence.
On 60 minutes, Irish were granted another penalty 30 metres out, just right of the posts. With the wind now barely a zephyr, the Irish flyhalf was on target for the three-pointer to make it 15-0.
Minutes later, Farnham lost another battling forward, Oscar Henderson, who sustained an elbow injury while engaged in the physical and niggly battle of the breakdown that the game had become.
With minutes left, the Irish forced another lineout from which yet another Farnham handling error led to a scrum and eventually, the Irish centre crashed over to score from five metres out.
Farnham never gave up and with a minute left, another good attack resulted in a lineout. The result of the catch and drive was a continuation of what had been occurring all game, with a knock on allowing the referee to blow for full time.
Report: Andrew Mortimore