COBHAM 31 OLD ELTHAMIANS 39
A rollercoaster of a game with ten tries, played on yet another fine January day conducive to running rugby, and that is what we got. Cobham are a really good side and totally belie their lower-half status. To prove this they share the highest number of bonus points with league leaders Chichester. At the end of the day Old Elthamians, though overall the better side, were very relieved when the final whistle blew.
The Old Boys got off to a flying start and totally dominated the first five minutes, with Owen Lewis unlucky to have a try disallowed when grounding short and then Tom White having one not given in the left-hand corner. Cobham cleared the lines and then, to prove how dangerous they could be, won an attacking scrum thirty metres out and crashed over for a converted try. Suddenly from what should have been 0-5 or 0-10 to the Old Boys, they were 7-0 down.
Composure and sound running skills from the backs saw them claw their way back. A superb break from Jonny Williams saw him score under the posts for Tom White to level the scores. Some great handling crept in which prevented the flood gates opening, but another Jonny Williams try put Elthamians in the lead for the first time 7-12 with 15 minutes gone. Another fine move saw Owen Lewis go over for a Tom White converted try and a 7-19 score line after 18 minutes, surely the Old Boys would pull away. No, a penalty for not releasing narrowed the scores again to 10-19.
More flowing rugby from the Elthamian backs saw Tom White score and convert his own try, 10-26, bonus point bagged and ten minutes to go till half-time, this must be floodgate time. No, Tom White was yellow-carded and on the final second of the half Cobham scored another fine converted try, so half-time stood at 17-26.
The second half opened very brightly for the visitors with the Elthamian pack starting off well and driving into the Cobham half. A scrum midfield, a set move from the training ground and Paddy Smith going over for a try that Rob White failed to convert; 17-31. Was this it? No way. Led by a very lively back row, Cobham fought back and narrowed the gap again with their big second row going over under the posts; 24-31. More good forward play saw Andrew Reeve go over in the corner for an unconverted try; 24-36.
There were 25 minutes left and to be fair 15 to 20 of them belonged to Cobham. They bashed away and managed another converted try to make it 31-36. It was a very worrying time for the visitors, to be honest: a game that should have been out of sight was in danger of being lost. With ten minutes to go Cobham were caught offside and Tom White slotted a long-range penalty to make it 31-39. Cobham fought on hard and were kept out by resolute defence. With five minutes to go Cobham had a chance to get a second penalty with the Old Boys being caught offside, but with the main kicker off the field injured his replacement hit the crossbar.
The excitement was not over yet, with Cobham pushing hard, Elthamians had to play the last four minutes with 14 players as Andrew Reeve was yellow-carded for a technical offence.
The final whistle went and job done with five points in the bag, but a few people were mightily relieved; Chichester only came away from Cobham with a 13-13 draw, at least Old Elthamians managed five points.