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Old Reigatian 2nd XV v Cobham 2nd XV, Match Report

Old Reigatian 2nd XV 46 v Cobham 2nd XV 7

As the final scenes of the afternoon’s proceedings were playing out, with Harry Smith and Aran Courtney Walker having combined to score one final try and complete the rout of Cobham, thoughts turned to reflect on THE performance [save the best until last] of the season, and also the journey that has been made by this whole group from the early signs of life against Dorking, in September, to the formed beast that is the Old Reigatian 2nd XV.

Cobham are a talented and hard outfit, having been seated second in the Surrey Championship for much of the season, and being responsible for our heaviest defeat in the opening league fixture of the campaign. From the first whistle it was clear to see that they were intent on repeating this ignominy but strong defence by all [especially Jude McRobbie, Adam Bostel, Harry S, Harry Plowman and Olly Guy, who seemed to be everywhere on the pitch] kept the attackers at bay, albeit that a marginal forward pass denied our opponents an opening score.

Having settled and sustained the early pressure, ORs made ground, utilising the now characteristic interplay between forwards and backs to work into the opposition half [Patch White at his dangerous best]. A strong scrum [nod to Eliot Anderson and Lewis Freeman – congratulations on your end of season award, Lewis!] and a breakthrough by Rob Cheal took us close to the posts, but it was Cobham who managed to clear their lines and, with about 20 minutes on the clock, open the scoring with a goal.

Against the strong wind, Kern Bush Nelson restarted with a high and swirling kick, which was knocked forward, placing us on the Cobham 22. Ball was being moved back and forth by Reigatians [Plow bullet-like into contact, Elliot’s bulldozing drives and Toby Brann’s elusive advances standing out], eventually finding its way out wide to Adam Bostel, who weaved in and out to beat several defenders and score a very impressive five points. This strong attack ethic continued – Aran’s mazy run thwarted by a last-ditch tackle, Joe Wills counterattacking effectively from full back, Dan Westley and Jude also putting their mark down. With the last play of the half, ball moved to the right-hand side and Plow burst through a tackle to touch down in the corner, unfortunately damaging himself in the process – many thanks to Bella Bukht for stepping in at the last moment to look after the injured.

Taking a lead into the break, having played against the elements for the first forty minutes, was a psychological boost, on show shortly after the restart, with excellent handling skills from Jude setting Aran off on a half pitch length run, using his powerful stride and hand off to increase ORs points tally; Kern successfully placed the conversion between the posts to take the score to 17 – 7.

Now things were very much in the ascendency, Harry S [fizzing all game] intercepted a Cobham move and outstripped the defence to increase the gap, following it up with his second try shortly afterwards. With replacements on [Andy Green for Adam, Lucas Stephens for Kern, George Mitchell for Plow, George Croucher for Patch] the Green and Blue tempo rose to an even higher level: Andy hitting three massive tackles in a row, dumping the attackers as if he was emptying a sackful of rubble into a skip; George M making a clean and pacey break to set George C off on a gallop; Lucas delivering an unfathomable flip pass for Jude to sprint in for another score, which Lucas, himself, duly converted [34 – 7].

Further exciting play was to follow – Dan making a sniping run to feed the ball to Jude [who else?], whose goose step and off load to Joe then found Andy, leading to a rumbustious try – Lucas added the kick, [Duncan McRobbie, from the sidelines, was heard to shout: ‘Jude, you are not Cheslin Kolbe!’], Tosin Oladigbolu battering over, only to have just been edged into touch metres before, and then the final try for Aran after a long pass from Toby and Harry S wrong footing his defender.

A mention for the 3rd XV who comprehensively beat Cats 27 – 7, with talk of the day being George Mitchell’s individual sprint from inside his own 22 to seal the win.

So, the 2023 / 24 season concludes with us finishing third in the league, behind runaway leaders Farnham and old adversaries Ironsides in second [defeating them twice this year both in league and friendly competition has been one of many highlights], and the identity of the AXV is now firmly in place. The blend of youth and know-how, with a peppering of those in the middle, has made this squad into something special – there have been many ‘battles’ which should, by rights, not have been won but positivity, grit, determination, support, inclusion, skill and growing belief in each other have combined to cement real team spirit – epitomised by Player of the Season, Jude. This progress will continue under the invaluable guidance and of Steve and Owen.

There will be many of the younger players who will have aspirations to play for the 1st XV, and will be an asset as they develop and reach that next level; there are others who have made comebacks this year – and enjoyed it so much that they have stayed; and there is one who is retiring from playing at senior level, having been a fantastic ambassador for the Club, both on and off the pitch, for many years – Captain [he wanted it made clear that under his leadership the team were undefeated] for the day, Ed Bartlett, led from the front and built the momentum for this overwhelming victory, showing his experience, passion and leadership. Over many years, I have been fortunate enough to know a significant number of great Old Reigatian clubmen – Ed is right up there!

Don’t forget, those who have signed up, that we will get together for the 1st XV match at Park Lane on Saturday to support them in their endeavours against Battersea Ironsides in the Papa John Cup.

Finally, a few stats for those who enjoy numbers – these are from my records [not including the match v Chipstead early in the season], so could well be wrong, but possibly nearer than anything else we will have on record.

Played 15Won 9Lost 6
Try scorer 1 = Chris Chalder [8]Try scorer 2 = Rob Cheal [6]Try scorer 3 = Aran Courtney Walker & Adam Mendoza [5]
Kicked points 1 = Lucas Stephens [44]Kicked points 2 = Harry Smith [10]Kicked points 3 = Chris Chalder [9]

My [and only my] opinion of the top 3 tries of the season:

  1. Tom Baldwin v Rosslyn Park
  2. Patch White v Cobham
  3. Rob Cheal v Old Cats
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