Farnham Rugby Club continued their excellent form with a 39-7 victory against KCS Old Boys in Regional 2 South East on Saturday.
KCS Old Boys travelled to Monkton Lane to fulfil their league commitment having handed the home side the walkover in the season’s earlier match scheduled to be at Farnham. Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, the game was able to go ahead in no small part because of the work done by the pitch management team who produced a sodden but playable surface.
So, in conditions similar to last week’s three-point grind over Horsham, less the strong downfield wind, KCS kicked off from the Town End. Despite the conditions, the opening exchanges were played at an exciting pace with some deft handling in open play.
The KCS team, particularly their backs, belied their bottom of the table position, and looked eager to prove a point.
After 15 minutes of sparring, Farnham attacked deep into KCS territory with a series of drives. The ball was recycled from a ruck on the KCS 22 on the right with Ollie Brown feeding Harrison Horner, who crashed up the middle to provide quick ruck ball. The ball was spun wide to Reese Stennett on the left wing, who swerved and sprinted 20 metres down the touchline to score in the corner. Toby Salmon missed the difficult conversion.
KCS showed their mettle and reacted immediately. They regained the ball at the restart and spun it quickly from their left to right, freeing up their winger who sped past the unprepared Farnham defence to score close to the posts. The simple conversion was taken, and KCS had their noses deservedly in front.
The pace of this game was unrelenting. From the restart Farnham put pressure on KCS deep in the visitors’ half.
Securing the ball and then a penalty, Salmon kicked to touch five metres out on the left. The lineout was caught and driven over the KCS line by a dominant Farnham pack, with hooker Ben Brown claiming the touchdown. Again, the conversion was missed.
A brief but hard shower of rain did not improve the quality of play. The match continued with both sides making understandable handling errors but still producing a compelling game of competitive rugby. Both defences held on well while a number of scoring opportunities were missed by both sides.
In the final play of the half, with seconds remaining, the KCS inside centre dummied the Farnham backs and made an incisive break with the try line beckoning. However, to the relief of the home crowd, the killer final pass was dropped into touch by the supporting winger. Little play followed this riveting display, and the referee blew for half time.
A stiffening breeze blew across the pitch as the players returned for the second half.
After five minutes, pressure exerted on the KCS defence forced a knock-on in goal, giving Farnham a scrum five yards out. The ball was picked from the base and further drives from the forwards took the Black and Whites close to KCS’ line. Finally, Horner crashed over to score.
The shot at goal was good and Farnham stretched their lead to 17-7.
Farnham now started to exert more and more pressure with a number of attacks deep in the KCS 22. However, reminiscent of last week’s display by the home side, the visitors held strong and Farnham were unable to capitalise on their territorial advantage.
In the 55th minute, the Farnham coaches rang the changes by adding some fresh legs to the team. Ben Jones came on for Matt Farnes at fly-half. Farnes had played a good game combining assured distribution with kicks for territory into gaps that made it awkward for the KCS back three to gather. Jemi Akin-Olugbade came on for the immense Horner and the pack was reshuffled.
In the 60th minute, Farnham attacked from the half-way line, Salmon put a neat chip through the KCS defence, gathering the ball after a chase, and spun the ball to Nathan Phillimore on the wing. He circumnavigated the desperate KCS cover on the far side of the pitch to score. The conversion was missed.
That score seemed to take the stuffing out of the hitherto resilient KCS defence.
Farnham scored an impressive three tries in the last 15 minutes. The first came from a lineout on halfway that saw Salmon scorching though the midfield, bemusing the KCS defence to score a superb try from 50 yards out. A vociferous balcony cheered the Farnham captain’s score.
Salmon failed to convert his own try, but Farnham were now firmly in charge of the match and led 27-7.
The next try came from a lineout five yards from the KCS line. A classic – and practically indefensible – catch, drive and maul provided Akin-Olugbade with the touchdown. He now extends his record as the “most senior” scorer for Farnham 1st XV. Salmon successfully converted to make the score 34-7.
The end of the match loomed, but there was time for the final try. From the kick off, Jones took the ball into the KCS 22. From the ensuing ruck, the ball was fizzed out to the unmarked pack leader Ben Adams who went over to score.
With the mud-spattered teams now almost indistinguishable the final whistle blew. The players marched off to the acclaim from a happy, albeit soggy, home crowd on the pavilion balcony. They applauded the efforts of all players, not least the KCS boys who, until the final 15 minutes, held strong and contributed greatly to an exciting game.
All fingers are crossed for some fairer weather to aid the grounds team as Farnham welcome Gravesend to Monkton Lane on Saturday.
Report: Andrew Mortimore
Photos: Julian Frost