Warlingham hand on for victory

First published in Other Rugby by

Playing their third competitive game in eight days Warlingham defended resolutely in the last quarter of to overcome a very spirited revival from Old Dunstonians and win 32-26.

A fixture backlog meant that Warlingham had to play a Cup game against Sutton & Epsom under floodlights on Wednesday and they could have been forgiven if their fitness was lacking, but head coach Tom Street has worked hard with his charges over the past few months to ensure they were up to the mark.

Warlingham started well and their forwards dominated the play forcing Dunstonians to defend desperately. After several rucks on the home side try line Tom Street emerged with the ball to feed the ubiquitous centre Ben Wimble for the first try.

Winger Jon Osborne made the most of a tramline pass but was bundled into touch at the third attempt by the home cover.

Despite the Warlingham lineout stuttering they had the lion's share of the possession with giant lock Nick Ray and flankers Murphy and King leading the way.

Hooker Dan Street, celebrating his 30th birthday, was convinced he had scored the second try but the referee deemed he had been held up over the line. The resulting five metre scrum was rounded off by Wimble dancing through for his second score. Warlingham were rampant and when Dunstonians were penalised at the lineout full back Joe McEvoy kicked his first points of the afternoon. When Tom Street tackled in the midfield and wrestled the ball out of his opponent's arms danger was afoot for the home team.

Slick handling saw Osborne finish the move with a try under the posts. McEvoy added the conversion. Dunstonians struck back with a breakaway converted try to end the first half.

When McEvoy broke down the centre and handed on to Street and No 8 Mike Fair, Warlingham gathered momentum. Quickly recycled ball gave fly half James Agate half a chance. He ghosted through the midfield defence for a fine try converted by McEvoy. It seemed Warlingham were indubitably home and dry.

However, Dunstonians had other ideas. Despite Nick Ray stealing two important opposition balls Dunstonians raised their game and, as a result of weak tackling, scored two converted tries in quick succession bringing them within one score.

McEvoy missed a very kickable penalty for Warlingham and this spurred the home side. When they scored their fourth try by the corner flag the conversion would have brought them level. Fortunately for Warlingham the kick was lacking but the one point difference looked precarious for Warlingham as Dunstonians piled on the pressure. It was there that the Warlingham fitness and superior resilience made the difference. The pack reverted to type and drove mercilessly up the field. At least half a dozen rucks within five metres of the try line eventually broke the resolute defence.

Dan Street celebrated his birthday with the final fifth try for Warlingham and the game was drawn to a close.

After the game, coach Tom Street said: "Dunstonians did the same when we played them at home. To play catch-up rugby with a 20 point deficit is great credit to them.

"But this Warlingham squad is now gelling and this second successive five-league-point away win sets down a marker that we can play high pressure rugby over a sustained period."

Next week Warlingham host Lewes at their Hamsey Green home.

Warlingham: Abou-Zeid, D Street, Scutt, Ray, L Delderfield, Murphy, King, Perkins, Agate(Capt), Osborne, Wimble, T Street, A Sinner, McEvoy Subs: J Delderfield, Dowling, Saffery

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