Old Walcountians' fightback falls short
Old Walcountians snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a 18-23 Surrey Division One defeat to Old Cranleighians.
The Counts had a first half which they would rather forget, with the forwards too frequently losing possession in contact and failing to support breaks, which allowed the visitors to dictate the rhythm of the game.
Cranleighans took the lead with a penalty in the fifth minute and, by the 15th minute, were 10 points up after their blind-side flanker crashed over to touch down.
The Counts were then 17 points adrift after Cranleighans’ inside-centre carved a massive hole through the Walcountians’ defence and put his fellow centre in for a try.
Walcountians began their fightback as half-time approached - winger Tom Naylor, who was the one Walcountians player who troubled the Cranleighans’ defence, left three players in his wake before being checked. And from the resulting ruck, number eight Gerry Connor broke to drive over for a try.
However, the hosts conceded a penalty on the brink of half-time, which Cranleighans’ fly-half gratefully accepted.
The Counts were a transformed side in the second half as the forwards, so ineffective in the first half, totally decimated their opponents.
Although a team effort, there were immense contributions from props Dan Bell and Steve Cowlin who outscrummaged their Cranleighan counterparts, lock Dom Bell who dominated the line-outs and flanker Sam Naylor rattled Cranleighans with a series of thunderous tackles and surging runs.
However, Walcountians’ backs were checked by a watertight Cranleighan defence which refused to buckle under pressure. Centre Callum Stone and replacement lock Harry Rodd were denied tries after being held up on the line.
However, Walcountians reduced the visitor's advantage as fly-half Tom Diamond fired over two penalties.
Walcountians were then in with a chance of victory when replacement scrum-half Will Diamond broke right from a tap penalty and fed centre Chris Walsh, who in turn found winger Chris Drinkwater to touch down for a try, which Tom Diamond converted.
Walcountians however blew their chances of victory two minutes later when they conceded a penalty which the Cranleighans fly-half gratefully accepted.
The visitors were good enough to repel the Counts in the closing minutes to hang onto their narrow lead and claim the result.