Old Walcountians hopes alive
Old Walcountians won their first match for five months as they spectacularly saw off the challenge of fellow strugglers CL London 35-15 on Saturday.
The win, in front of former players who had gathered for a pre-match lunch organised by chairman Rocky Stone, kept the Surrey One strugglers' hopes of avoiding relegation alive but they still need to win their final two league games.
The Counts had a near full-strength side and went on the offensive against opponents who had won their previous two league games from the kick-of.
The Walcountians pack, anchored by strong performances from hooker Rob Grehan, lock Simon Fowler and flanker Jack South, dominated play in the loose and relentlessly drove the Cheeky Ladies downfield.
The backs had far more ball to feast on than in many recent games and fly-half Paul Griffin and centre Fred South repeatedly opened holes in the Cheeky Ladies’ defence to the extent that wingers Chris Walsh and Simon Manning saw more ball in this match than they had for much of the season.
Walsh was close to opening Walcountians account after just six minutes when he broke from his own half after intercepting a weak pass, but the Cheeky Ladies defenders managed to haul him down before he reached the line.
But there was no mistake four minutes later when the Counts took a tap penalty and Rob Grehan got his hand to the ball as the forwards drove over. Fred South got the first of five conversions to give Walcountians a seven point lead.
The Cheeky Ladies were close to reducing the arrears in the 13th minute when they were awarded a penalty, but the opportunity went begging.
Nine minutes later, Walcountians were even further ahead when Fred South caused panic in the Cheeky Ladies’ defence as he fired in a grubber kick, and an obstruction to chasing Walcountian scrum-half Callum Stone resulted in a penalty try being awarded.
Cheeky Ladies were successful with a penalty in the 25th minute, but a rampant Walcountians were in no mood to let them off the hook.
The 33rd minute saw Fred South on the scoresheet after running onto a chip kick from Paul Griffin and cutting through the heart of the Cheeky Ladies’ defence. He converted his own try to give the Counts an 18-point lead.
Cheeky Ladies however rallied in the closing minutes of the first half and showed some of the slick handling and support play which has resulted in two recent victories and, with a minute to go before the break, they put their left-winger in for a try after exploiting the failure by Walcountians to cover their right flank.
The second half was much tighter, and the Cheeky Ladies began to extend the Counts, both in the forwards where determined rucking achieved several turnovers and in the backs. But they failed to break down determined tackling by all members of Walcountians.
Walcountians were forced to reshuffle their ranks after they lost the impressive Paul Griffin with an ankle injury after 20 minutes.
But any thought by Cheeky Ladies of a comeback were soon extinguished as the Counts ran in two more tries.
The first, in the 24th minute, saw Fred South cap a magnificent all-round performance by running onto a pass after Chris Walsh had made the initial break and touching down in the right hand corner.
Then, in the 33rd minute, Callum Stone got on the scoresheet when he finished a move started by the Walcountians threequarters after the forwards recycled the ball from a ruck.
The Cheeky Ladies were however not finished and, in the final minute, their tight-head prop ran in a second try from a second phase move.
Walcountians are still bottom of Surrey One, but have closed the gap on CL London and Croydon.
The Counts have two games remaining to preserve their Surrey League One status next season and next Saturday they face a testing fixture against second-placed London Exiles who have led the league for most of the season. Kick-off at Barn Elms Recreation Ground is at 3pm.