Plenty of effort – but Farnham are beaten

Wednesday 2nd February 2022 7:00 am
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Farnham Rugby Club
(Mark Weeks, use by Farnham Herald, Alton Herald, Bordon Herald, Haslemere Herald, Liphook Herald only )

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Medway 35 Farnham 15: FARNHAM produced a spirited performance and took plenty of positives despite the defeat against a top-three team.

Defeat left Farnham in 12th place in the 13-club London Division 1 South table, although they have two games in hand over the clubs immediately above them – while Medway, who have a 100 per cent league record at home, cemented their third place.

Farnham kicked off proceedings at Medway’s Priestfields ground on a cold day with a light breeze.

Both sides, who wanted to keep ball in hand with fast phase play, met with strong defence, meaning the game was largely played in between the two 22s.

The first clean break came from Mo Pangarker, the Medway second row, with a strong carry from halfway to Farnham’s 22. A penalty to Medway followed after an offside infringement which, although kickable, they opted to go for touch, showing the confidence in their team.

The lineout off the top to their backs attacking down the middle of Farnham’s 22 quickly resulted in a penalty to Farnham for holding on, and they opted to clear to touch.

Farnham, now in possession, launched their own attacks round the fringes with strong carries from Marco Azevedo, Oscar Henderson and skipper Ollie Brown.

The ball was then spun wide and, in the face of rush defence, Mike Salmon attempted a raking kick downfield which ended up in the arms of oncoming Medway centre Anthony Clement, who offloaded to his fly half, Jack Johnson, to run under the posts for the opening score after only five minutes. Owen Church-Mills successfully converted to make the score 7-0.

The kick-off was regathered by birthday boy Oscar Henderson and, after a knock on from the opposition, Farnham had the put in to the scrum on the Medway ten-metre line.

The scrums were to be highly contested against a formidable Medway pack but first blood went to Farnham with a powerful drive awarding them a scrum penalty.

This was kicked to touch and after the top line out ball was taken in by effervescent wing Jack Rowlandson, the recycled ball span out wide to Oscar Henderson who dummied, stepped and raced in to score from the 22, 12 minutes in.

The conversion by Toby Salmon levelled the score at 7-7.

The next ten minutes saw Medway putting together multiple phases of attack and pressure resulting in a penalty on the Farnham 22. This time Church-Mills opted for the sticks to make it 10-7.

The Farnham kick-off, again regathered by Henderson, was passed wide with Mike Salmon kicking through to pressure Medway deep into their 22.

The next few minutes saw the teams exchange kicks and scrums between the 22s with the experienced front row of Azevedo, Jorris and Edwards holding their own against a sizeable Medway pack.

Several phases of Medway advances were repelled by the defensive efforts of Johnny Vincent, Jamie Low and Jules Jorris. Likewise, Farnham’s attacking forays by Toby Salmon, Ollie Brown and Jack Rowlandson were met with stout defence from Medway with their captain and open side Tom Beaumont securing a couple of turnovers.

Another decent break by Henderson ended in a high tackle and injury, with him being replaced by Ben Brown. The subsequent penalty, slotted by Toby Salmon, took the scores level at 10-10 in the 34th minute, a fairly representative score of the game so far.

Nearing the end of the first half Medway took a lineout off the top and passed to their powerful and rapid left wing Alfie Orris, coming off his wing into the ten channel where he met little resistance and raced into the Farnham 22.

Here he was tackled by Jack Rowlandson, but not held, so got back on his feet to power over the last five yards to score. Church-Mills was again successful with the conversion to put his side 17-10 ahead.

With enough time for a restart, Medway passed the ball again to Orris, who looked threatening all afternoon, to make yards up the left wing.

The ensuing play led to a collision injury to the Medway fullback and there was a back line shuffle to accommodate his replacement, with Orris moving to 15.

More phases of uninterrupted play saw Medway advance near the Farnham 22 with a break by skipper Beaumont who passed to the pacy ten Johnson to score out wide.

The conversion was missed by Johnson but Medway went into the break 22-10 up after a wounding last few minutes of the half for Farnham.

Farnham brought Henderson back on for the second half, but the first ten minutes saw the home side pressuring Farnham in their own 22 after the Black and Whites had tried to play out but conceded a penalty for offside.

Fortunately the Medway line-out was again stolen by Ben Adams, an area of dominance all afternoon, but touch wasn’t found from the clearance, leading to another defensive shift from the visiting forward pack. The dependable Jorris interchanged with Ben Brown after taking a knock.

A penalty was finally conceded by Farnham and dutifully kicked by Johnson, to put his side 25-10 ahead.

The restart saw Farnham battle their way back into opposition territory and were awarded a penalty for their efforts after hands in the ruck.

Skipper Ollie Brown took the quick tap near the home 22 and tried to pass down the short side but a knock on by their number five Pangarker was deemed deliberate and the first and only yellow card of the game was shown.

Fifteen points down and 25 minutes to go meant Farnham were going to kick for touch in an attempt to maximise points from their visit to their opponents’ 22.

This turned out to be a wise decision with Ben Adams securing the lineout catch, a driving maul was set up and powered over from ten yards with Jamie Low the man in possession over the whitewash. The conversion was missed by Toby Salmon to leave the score 25-15.

Medway were soon hammering on the door of Farnham’s 22 with resilient tackling from Reece Stennet, Johnny Vincent and a spirited defensive afternoon from Mike Salmon.

The resultant pressure culminated in a penalty on the Farnham 22 with Medway’s Johnson once again successful with the boot.

With 15 minutes to go Jorris returned for Farnham, as did the Medway second row from his enforced break.

The next ten minutes once again witnessed strong Medway pressure, weathered, in part, by the Salmon brothers Mike and Tim, the latter having replaced Matt Farnes.

This period was also dominated by several scrums with Farnham beginning to creak against the sizeable Medway pack and eventually conceding a scrum penalty.

Medway’s Garafolo took a quick tap, breaching Farnham’s 22 and after a few swift phases spun the ball wide to give outside centre Marriott a clear run in past a now-narrow Farnham defence.

Johnson converted to make it 35-15.

Farnham brought on their final replacement, the imposing frame of young newcomer Matt Chapman, into the second row for his first appearance.

Farnham were caught by the defence on their own 22 trying to take the game to their opponents in the last few minutes, knocking on in the tackle.

The following scrum earned Medway a penalty and they opted to kick for touch with a lineout on Farnham’s five- metre line.

They were awarded a penalty for encroaching in the lineout by Farnham, and they opted for a scrum five metres out.

One last, huge effort from the Farnham pack saw Farnham win a scrum penalty which was cleared to touch outside the 22 by Toby Salmon – and they had survived the final home onslaught.

Report by Barney Hart

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