The Counts were expecting a tough challenge from opponents who have turned round their form in the second half of the season, and got it. Freemen’s were strong, both in the forwards and the backs, and put Walcountians under pressure from the start. But Walcountians showed they could match Freemen’s in all departments and, on occasions, looked the more effective side. Hooker Rob Fleming and prop Remy Claustres were outstanding in driving play forward from the rucks and, had they been supported more effectively by their team mates, the Counts would have retained more possession that they did. The Walcountians backs looked dangerous when they had a clear run with the ball, but they squandered possession too many times with wild passes. Only in defence did Walcountians look consistently solid as they restricted an in-form Freemen’s side to one try.
The visitors took an early lead with a fifth minute penalty but it was Walcountians who made the first substantive move after eight minutes when No 8 Joe Henderson opened a massive hole in the Freemen’s defence after joining a threequarter move and released full-back Dharshan Vadivelu who in turn put winger Marvin Fletcher-Rogers in for his 11th try of the season. A towering conversion from fly-half Seb Chmielinski put the Counts 7-3 up.
Walcountians’ propensity to concede penalties at the ruck area proved costly as Freemen’s full-back had his kicking boots on and banged over three penalties to give the visitors a five-point lead at the break.
Walcountans had both the slope and wind in their favour in the second half but failed to take advantage of either, and Freemen’s continued to pull away with another penalty and, in the 17th minute, a try from their inside-centre which all but put the match out of Walcountians’ reach.
The Counts threw on fresh legs in the shape of prop Dom Bell, flanker Will Dunne and fly-half George Charnock, and mounted a late rally which brought a try for No 8 Joe Henderson as he picked up from the base of a 5-metre scrum and crashed over for a converted try in the 30th minute. But Freemen’s were good enough to hold Walcountians at bay for the last ten minutes and hold onto victory which keeps them in fourth place in Surrey League 1 and also sends them through to the final of the Surrey Shield.
Next Saturday, Walcountians play their final match of the season when they take on Old Wimbledonians at Clock House, kicking off at 3pm. This will be followed by the Washer Cup in which Walcountians Under-21s take on Wallington County Grammar School 1st XV.
Old Walcountians:- Vadivelu, Fletcher-Rogers, Bateman, Wrightson (H), Bellringer, Chmielinski, McMullen (T), Abou-Zeid, Fleming, Claustres, Thornton, McMullen (J), Housden, Wrightson (J), Henderson.
Subs:- Bell, Charnock, Dunne.