Croydon gave League leaders Old Cranleighians a shock with this outstanding performance.
The result does not do justice to a good visiting side who were well in the game with 20 minutes to go having brought the score back to 29-23. Croydon’s superior fitness told in the end & 5 late tries piled up the points in a very entertaining game.
Croydon’s victory was based on sustained aggressive running by their big forwards, Luke Raynor, David Wheeler & Chris Palmer, who scored 5 tries between them. Another forward, Dave Thornton, also enjoyed himself in the unaccustomed position of centre, where he created havoc with repeated bursts through the midfield. These big line breakers were well supported by the rest of the team who fed off the platform of go-forward ball.
At fly half, Jack Bond pulled the strings nicely, varying play, kicking well & setting up his back line with aplomb.
Oc’s did not deserve to lose by such a margin. Their set pieces were good & they counter rucked Croydon off the loose ball on several occasions. Sadly for them they were severely punished when they missed their first up tackles.
OCs opened the scoring with a penalty before Palmer scored for Croydon after Thornton had done the hard work. OCs regained the lead with a try, then skipper, Smutley Matthews surged over from a line out for Croydon.
Jake Henderson supported a brilliant surge by Raynor to cross at the posts, then Josh Conde had simple run round after great work by Palmer & Wheeler.
When Wheeler touched down to make the score 29-13, Croydon looked home & dry, but Cranleigh responded with a try & penalty to get within 6 points.
A great try by Raynor virtually from the restart effectively sealed the match & then the floodgates opened, Palmer, Wheeler, Andrew Lyell & Thornton all getting over to make victory emphatic. Jack Bond added several conversions.
In was nice to see Stretch Phillips on the field again after a long absence & Jamie Cousins making an impact with several charges when he came on as a replacement.