Farnham 18 Old Reigatian 12: Farnham got off to the perfect start in the new rugby season, winning their opening game in the Regional 2 South East in the restructured Level 6 of the RFU leagues.

Reigatians were always going to be stubborn opposition and so it proved – this was tense from start to finish.

The referee divided opinion all afternoon with the Black and Whites enjoying much of the whistle and the frustrated Reigatians falling foul with their whole approach to the breakdown and they managed to amass 16 penalties for very similar offences.

Farnham started well with a blend of experienced first- teamers and the introduction of Academy players Finn Anderson and Max Williams and new boys Dan Aldwinckle and Tom Dulage.

The first 20 minutes proved to be a real arm wrestle with Farnham enjoying the bulk of possession and territory.

Time and again they were thwarted on the gain line or the ORs try line – driven by old hands Jules Joris and Marco Azevado, the back five sensed easy pickings while Adams and Anderson, backed by Comley, Aldwinckel and the mercurial Vincent, made drive after drive at the opposition lines but this Reigatian rearguard held firm.

Then there were new tactics and a try, Farnham choosing to scrum on the halfway line and producing quick ball for Ollie Brown. After an immediate transfer through a blistering run from Ben Jones and on to new skipper Toby Salmon, he popped a great pass to new winger Max Williams on the charge who scorched earth for a try out wide.

Toby Salmon’s conversion attempt hit the post and Farnham led 5-0.

As half-time approached the game began to break down, as the constant stream of breakdown and scrum penalties continued and the spectacle suffered.

Early-season sparring was the theme until a Farnham attack broke down in the OR’s five-metre area.

The ball flipped out and quick as a flash Reigate winger Dom Flynn pounced and hared for the Farnham line some 90 metres away.

Everyone in the ground saw try written all over it except fly half Ben Jones who, with lung-busting pace, gradually closed on his prey. Flynn panicked, hesitated and was bundled into touch just seven metres out – a chance wasted.

Back came Reigatians and after a punishing 30-metre driving maul, their man of the match Gareth Stephens bounced off two Farnham defenders to score close in to level the scores at 5-5.

The clock was in the red as Farnham attacked for one last time and they won a penalty, which was converted by skipper Toby Salmon to earn them an 8-5 interval lead.

Early-season rustiness had seen both sides butcher scoring chances in a frenetic first period.

The second half opened with a salvo from the visitors, putting their driving maul to good use.

The Farnham defence wobbled but held with Herculean tackling efforts from Tim Salmon and wingers Williams and Chalker gradually turning the tide.

After a breakout, Farnham were awarded a penalty which was successful and edged them further head at 11-5.

Farnham called on the cavalry with Chapman, Dulage and Michael Salmon on to replace Joris, Anderson and Phillimore.

They had fresh legs but still the outcome of the game was in the balance as Reigatians drove down the left only to be stopped by a terrific crash tackle from Tim Salmon.

The ball popped free and was swept up by Farnham winger Alex Chalker. There may have been 90 metres to the line but this was no problem and the crowd willed him to the line and under the posts.

There were easy extras for Toby Salmon who put Farnham 18-5 ahead and gave his side breathing space at last.

The embers of the game saw the Reigatians right winger Coyle slip over out wide and Overtoom converted for a well-deserved losing bonus point. The general consensus was one of rustiness from both sides – for Farnham a welcome opening win, to set them up for the visit of Guildford to Monkton Lane today (Saturday) at 3pm.

Mark Weeks