Old Tiffinians 31 v 23 Warlingham
Old Tiffinians clinch first victory of the season.
Three games into the season without a win, Old tiffs were looking to capitalise against similarly placed opponents Warlingham, who had only taken one win from their first three after being relegated from London 2 SW. After a superb turnout and performance at training in what was undoubtedly the worst weather of the year so far, Old Tiffs arrived at the fortress Grists with great confidence, and came out pumped after a slick run through and some uplifting words from Tom Carvill and captain Jae Jang.
In the first few minutes of the game both teams looked up for the challenge, Warlingham showing why they used to be a south west 2 side with their size and hard running lines. However Tiffin’s defence held up very well the return of the centre partnership Michael Osborne and Josh Graham marshalling the line where needed; along with George Taylor they left no holes against a strong back line including a 120+kg 13. Eventually though, after multiple marginal offside infringements from Tiffs, the number of phases took their toll and Warlingham crashed over for the first score of the game. 7-0.
Not deterred, Tiffin kicked off and with a hard chase from Mackee they managed to pin the opposition back and win the ball. With an infringement from the opposition, Will Sharp stepped up and slotted one home from just outside the 22 to take the score to 7-3. An exchange of penalties then ensued, with Sharp converting all of his opportunities taking the score to 10-9 with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
With Old Tiffs pushing forward in the scrum, winning consistent ball through Kums and Mackee at the lineout, and George Taylor controlling the ball out back, they began to dominate the territory. A pinpoint chip over the top from Taylor under pressure forced Warlingham to scamper the ball into touch and give Tiffin a lineout just 10 metres out. From here, a driving maul saw Jae crash over for Tiffs’ first try. Following this the captain insisted on giving ‘no mercy’ to the Warlingham outfit, and knowing that they had given away a 20+ point lead earlier in the season, Tiffs continued to exert the pressure. Deep inside the 22 of the opponents, with some quick communication the two Staples brothers took advantage of an empty blindside, with Will crashing over for Tiffs’ second try just as half time struck. 19-10 to Old Tiffs.
The 2nd half resumed with yet another outstanding take following kick off from the flying Mackee leaping like a gazelle into the air over two slightly less athletic Warlingham forwards to reclaim the ball. Play continued much as it did at the end of the first half, with carries from Carvill and Richards breaking the gainline, and Sharp and Oz carving the way through the defence from deep out wide. Only a stud in touch stopped Tom Anthony from crossing the whitewash following a good break on the outside after a well-executed overlap. Following a Tiffs kick over the top that was deflected into touch by the visitors, none of them set the mark for the lineout. Seeing this and thinking quickly, Tommo nabbed the ball and threw a quick one into a rampaging Oscvar Hather on debut who could not be stopped from 10 metres out, leaving Old Tiffs just one try from a bonus point and 14 points clear at 24-10.
But there was a little more drama to come. Off a line out, Tiffs started to find themselves getting mauled backwards, causing a shift in momentum. Warlingham used this set piece multiple times to move into the Tiffs half. Following a penalty, Will Fairhurst appeared to drop 10 before racing back up with a superb hit on the ball carrier to stop the visitors’ momentum. However the ref saw otherwise and for the second time in successive home games Tiffs dropped to 14 for not retreating. The visitors’ kicker converted to bring the score to 24-13. Warlingham continued to press, and with the sack not working at the lineout the forwards decided not to engage on their 5 metre line, Kums racing round and forcing the ball to be held up over the line. However territory told in the end, and the visitors pushed over to bring them within one score with a man up, 24-18.
Sensing a possible repeat of previous games, with 20 minutes left Tiffs dug deep off kick off to keep the Warlingham side at bay. Just outside their own 22, Tiffs looked to clear their lines and gain territory with a kick downfield. The opposition 15 fielded the kick and seeing the good Tiffs chase, decided to return the kick. With the ball sailing long into the 22, Taylor had positioned himself perfectly to field the ball and call the mark, only to find that when he shouted for it the ball had dribbled through his arms and found its way onto the floor. Thankfully Tiffs managed to regain possession of the ball and began to build the phases once more and press deep into the Warlingham half, with Josh Graham eventually crossing over for the home team’s bonus point 4th try. Sharp converted to take the extras, giving Tiffs a 31-18 lead.
An organised defence could not stop Warlingham crashing over one more time with their hard lines, however a failure to convert left the score at 31-23. The last few minutes were very tensely fought (especially for those thinking there was only a 6 point gap), but with fresh legs on for Tiffs, defences held true until the final whistle.
Tiffin will hope to build on the momentum gained from this win and make it two on the trot against table topping Old Emanuel next weekend.
Final Score: Old Tiffinians 31 v 23 Warlingham
DoD: Will Fairhurst for getting binned.
MoM: Kiran Richards for strong carries and consistent tackles.
Tries: Jang, Staples, Hather, Graham
Conversions: Sharp (1)
Penalties: Sharp (3)
Match Report by Kiran Richards