Law Society 15 - Old Mid-Whitgiftian 25
Coach Andy Edwards felt that this was a big challenge to a team short of several experienced regulars. Law Society too were short a few of their best squad. Nevertheless this proved an absorbing contest with the ascendancy exchanged time and again.
Law Society were quickly in front with a try after 3 minutes but Mids replied almost immediately when, from some loose play in midfield, centre James Orchard intercepted and sped to the posts. Full back Ollie Fitzgerald converted and the visitors were 7-5 ahead. They then camped in the home 22 after driving a maul a full 30 metres. Law Society infringed and Mids should have been further ahead when Fitzgerald hooked a straightforward kick. They did extend their lead, however, when, after a fine break by centre Andy Dean, they forced another penalty and winger James Jenkins split the posts for 10-5 with 16 minutes gone.
The home team now dominated for a period and pinned the visitors in their 22. They finished well with a driving maul which Mids failed to hold and the resulting try tied the scores at 10-10 after 21 minutes.
From the kick off Law Society were penalised for holding on and Jenkins regained the lead for Mids with his second penalty. This spurred his side to up the pace and fly half Will Turvey set his line going well to produce several good moves with Dean a model of consistency in the centre. On the half hour scrum half Rob Farmer, who had a fine game and at times looked like an extra flanker, effected a slick turnover. The platform was set for Turvey to put in a teasing kick behind the defence and Jenkins showed his pace to skin the cover, gather and score in the corner. 18-10 was a good lead for Mids but they had to defend dourly when Law Society produced two flowing moves and recycled well to set up their pack to batter the visitors’ line. They were all but through but the Mids’ defence held and they were relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
From the kick off Law Society were quickly on the offensive. A penalty to the corner put them in the ideal position to drive their maul again but an excellent take in the line out by No.8 George Daniels helped Mids to repel the onslaught. The visitors now dominated play and Law Society infringed repeatedly. Mids declined kicks at goal in favour of kicks to touch and attacking line outs. This produced no points. Law Society regrouped and drove downfield. They won a line out in the Mids 22 and then found no opposition when they broke from the front of the line to touch down and narrow the gap to 18-15 after 57 minutes.
Mids were stung into action and now played their best rugby. Flanker Martin Simmonds and the second row pair of Matt Shillabeer and Ryan Williams were everywhere in the loose, carrying, harrying and tackling. Fitzgerald dealt impressively with kicks ahead and fearlessly ran the ball back at the opposition. Prop Jacques Bryant put in two huge tackles and had his best game of the season. Jenkins was just short of the line on two occasions with powerful runs down the right. Mids had the whiphand now and from a line out close in emulated their hosts in replicating their earlier driving maul. Skipper Ali Hall got the touchdown for a well deserved score and Jenkins added the extras with a superb kick.
Law Society refused to buckle and Mids put unnecessary pressure on themselves when two straightforward touch kicks were missed. However, they remained focused, tackled like lions and protected their lead well to emerge as worthy winners in a hard-fought encounter.
Edwards was well pleased with the way a supposedly depleted team acquitted themselves. Mids are third in the table but will need to score more bonus points in the New Year if they are to maintain or improve on this position.