Farnham secured their first win of the season with a 47-24 victory at Newbury.
Farnham travelled to unbeaten Newbury looking to kick-start their season after a couple of close defeats.
Farnham welcomed back the experienced half-back duo of Ollie Brown and Ben Jones.
Academy graduates Fin Basil and Jeff Leybourne made their debuts while Tom Brooker and Matt Kouris were welcomed back into Farnham shirts.
A fast pitch and a dry afternoon provided the perfect conditions for the Black and Whites’ fast, open, running game – a game they executed with real panache.
Farnham were soon putting the pressure on Newbury. The breakthrough came when Ben Jones fizzed the ball to Max Williams on the wing, who finished in the corner. The conversion was missed, but it was the ideal start for Farnham.
Farnham secured the restart and the forwards continued to carry well. with Basil and Brooker making considerable inroads. The backline linked up well with Fin Anderson – in his first game of the season – making hard yards in midfield while Recce Stennett and Sam Thomas threatened in the wide channels. Farnham were in the Newbury 22 again, and Brown drew the defensive line and passed to prop Jemi Akin-Olugbade who scored Farnham’s second try. The conversion was successful.
Newbury’s penalty count started to rise, and they were reduced to 14 men after a high tackle. Toby Salmon slotted the penalty to make it 15-0.
Farnham dominated possession and spent most of the first period in Newbury territory. Anderson picked up an eye injury and was replaced by the versatile Callum Jones.
Farnham made the 14 Newbury men work hard and broke through when Salmon stepped inside the drift defence and scored next to the posts. The conversion was successful.
The Farnham attack was now rampant. The playmakers controlled the tempo, and the team kept the errors to a minimum. After immaculate hands had moved the ball wide, Brooker made a break down the right wing and offloaded to Salmon in support. He was held short but popped the ball to Stennett at his shoulder. The conversion was successful.
Newbury were back to 15 men but Farnham were determined to keep them scoreless in the first half. With the 40 minutes almost up, Farnham kicked a penalty to the corner. Josh Watson broke away from the back of the rolling maul to bring Farnham within ten metres. Brown found Salmon, who sliced through the defence and scored under the posts.
A Newbury centre powered through some lackadaisical Farnham defending to score out wide pretty much from the restart kick at the start of the second half to make it 36-5.
Encouraged by their early success, Newbury kept possession and played in Farnham’s half. In a reversal of roles from the first half, ill-discipline now let Farnham down. Gifted field position, Newbury put in the phases to go over – a successful conversion made it 36-12.
Loose forwards Jonny Vincent and Watson led the Farnham fightback. Mike Mizzi came off the bench and changed the momentum of the game. Leybourne came on for his debut and made a break off the back of a lineout to put Farnham on the front foot.
Impressive interplay between the forwards and backs took the ball deep into Newbury territory and stretched their defence until a long pass from Ben Jones found Callum Jones out wide. He took on the Newbury defence before an offload found Salmon who finished in the corner to complete his hat-trick. The conversion was missed.
A breakout from Vincent from the restart put Farnham back in the Newbury half, but the offload to Brooker did not quite stick. Farnham’s penalty count was on the rise and Olugbade was rested for ten minutes after a high tackle.
Newbury made the extra man count and scored through their right winger to make it 41-17.
The Farnham set piece functioned well. with Marco Azevedo having a strong game and Kouris very accurate at the lineout. This set up a couple of Salmon penalties that put the game out of reach at 47-17.
Farnham had hoped to deny Newbury any league points. However, with a minute left on the clock, Newbury powered over from close range to earn themselves a try bonus point and take the final score to 47-24.