Old Mid-Whitgiftian 31 - Old Whitgiftian 22
A large crowd gathered at Lime Meadow Avenue to watch the eagerly anticipated Surrey Cup Semi Final between The Mids and league leaders Old Whitgiftians.
With very little to separate the two sides in their two previous league meetings this seasons (both had one win each with Mids having a two point advantage in the aggregate scores) this was always going to be a tightly contested game.
Mids started well and had the early territorial advantage however Whits were looking a threat on the break and only some last-ditch defence kept them at bay. After seven minutes it was a former Whitgift School Boy who opened the scoring however thankfully for Mids he was wearing a Mids shirt! Dan Crouch who kicked superbly all game put in a great kick to the corner, Rob Farmer caught the ball on the bounce and fed it back inside to Harry Wilson who somehow squeezed through a tight gap to score. Crouch converted.
Five minutes later Whits drew level when following a number of forward drives one of their forwards just managed to stretch out an arm and ground the ball on the try line although half of the crowd thought the ball had been dropped as it bounced up into the air.
After twenty five minutes of the game Whits found themselves in front when they kicked a penalty and they further extended their lead when on thirty five minutes they scored their second try of the game when their number eight ran straight through the middle. The conversion took the score to 7-17.
Mids responded well and their dominance in the last 5 minutes was rewarded with six points from the boot of Crouch as he kicked two penalties to bring the score at half time to 13-17.
Three minutes into the second half Mids further reduced the margin with another perfectly struck penalty from Crouch.
Twelve minutes into the half Mids regained their lead! Prop, Jack Whitewood gave an excellent off load to James Jenkins who ran a great line, stepping about nine players on route, to claim his fifth consecutive try in only his fifth 1st XV appearance! Crouch made it 23-17 with the conversion.
Mids were now in charge and with fresh legs being introduced off of a very strong bench they continued to stretch Whits. With twenty five minutes of the half played Mids picked up their third try of the evening! Mark Handley and George Daniels were taking it in turns to pluck the ball out of the air at lineouts regardless of which team were throwing in. From a lineout in the Whits 22, Mids set up a powerful rolling maul which resulted in Jacques Bryant claiming his first try of the season to extend Mids lead to 28-17.
With five minutes left on the clock Crouch kicked his 150th point for the 1st XV this season to give Mids what seemed an unassailable lead of 31-17.
Whits however were not finished! They threw everything they had left at the Mids defence and were eventually rewarded for their efforts in the last minute of normal time with a try in the corner with a snipe from their nine to make the score 31-22.
With the conversion missed Whits were still nine points behind yet they still refused to admit defeat and laid siege on the Mids line. A large majority of the crowd were calling for full time. Those members who were glued to their phones for the live updates, from Nottingham to Nicaragua, were waiting for that final whistle but still it never came!
The Mids defence was resolute led by captain Ali Hall who was putting in tackle after tackle. However Mids were guilty of giving away far too many penalties which allowed Whits to kick back into the corner. Mids must have come close to giving away a penalty try or at least having a player sent to the bin but after twelve minutes of injury time the final whistle eventually came!
Both sides had given everything and it was a great game to watch with surprising few errors given the poor weather conditions. It is hard to single any player out however man of the match has to go to Matt Shillabeer who worked his socks off for the full 92 minutes.
Mids will now play the winner of Old Walcountians and Old Freemens in the final at Esher on 7th May (Bank Holiday Monday). Put the date in the diary now!!!