Cobham 43 - Old Mids AXV 14
Late drop outs leave the AXV short but they dig deep to put in a spirited display
The AXV travelled to Cobham with a somewhat depleted side as a result of poor availability throughout the club. The situation was not helped by a number of late drop outs leaving The Mids with only 14 players however Cobham, with a full squad of 22 players, showed great sportsmanship by lending The Mids a player to balance out the numbers on the pitch.
The game could not have started any worse for The Mids as Cobham scored an easy try in the first few minute. This could have easily let to the floodgates opening however it proved to be a wake up call for The Mids and instead of falling apart the team pulled together and proved to Cobham that they were going to be no push over!
Cobham did score several more tries during the half but Mids had their fair share of the play and had a number of opportunities to score a try of their own. The closest Mids came to breaking their duck was from a rolling maul off of a line out when Russell Jones (who was the youngest member of the front row, which had a combined age of 133, by 7 years) was held up as he attempted to force his way over the line. This did however set the pattern of The Mids attack as they realised their best chance of scoring would be from keeping the ball tight and forcing the Cobham forwards on to the back foot. Mids pressure resulted in a number of penalties which Dave Bouchard expertly kicked deep into the Cobham 22 to give the Mids a succession of attacking line out. The line out was fairly predictable for The Mids as Laurence Oliver was the only outlet however Peter Cook in his conversion from fullback to hooker managed to find his man on virtually every line out. However despite a number of attempts to drive Cobham back over their line the Mids were unsuccessful. With their heads up Mids continued to attack, Adam Dyer mixed up the play from 10, attacking gaps when he could and unleashing his fellow back when there was no gap for himself to attack. After a sustained period of pressure where every forward seemed to have a pick and go from the base of the ruck the referee, who it must be said had a very good game, finally decided Cobham had committed one offence too many in the danger zone. As scrum half Matt Hoyles was illegally stopped just short of the line, with a pick and go of his own, the referee pointed to the post and awarded Mids a well deserved penalty try (which under the new laws gave Mids 7 points with no conversion being needed).
As Cobham made a number of changes in the second half, fitness began to make a difference and this resulted in a number of soft tries for Cobham which included a hat-trick for their number 8 who went on to be awarded the man of match. Mid situation was not helped when they lost outside centre James Bennett midway through the half to a shoulder injury however Mids still continued to have spells of their own in the game. Zou Mihramane had moved to front row and this improved the Mids scrum. Mids were again awarded a succession of penalties but unlike in the first half they were now opting for the scrum instead of kicking for the corners however despite putting Cobham on the back foot they were unable to drive them over the line. Mids second try eventually came in a similar way to their first try when after a flurry of forwards trying their luck Matt Hoyles, who Cobham awarded the Mids man of the match, sniped himself but unlike in the first half this time he made it over (or at least on to) the line. Dave Bouchard stepped up to take the conversion from out wide which he slotted straight between the post to maintain the AXV's 100% record from the tee this season (this was the 10th successful kick in a row).
Every member of the team should be proud of the effort they put in against a very strong Cobham side but special mention should go to Ciaran McKeon on his club debut, playing at 7 he was all over the pitch which was a very good thing as 5 of the 8 forwards will be playing in the Mids vets side next Friday so his athleticism was very much needed! Although watching him drink Matt Hoyles' man of the match drink for him he does need to work on his drinking technique....