Despite a number of changes up front, the pack still managed to secure a number of balls against the head, and it was from one such strike that Collins scored his first after just seven minutes, powering over from 5 metres.
There was a scare for Reading when their hosts broke through a gap in the midfield, just two minutes later. Paul Shumake, who guested during the first half for Farnham, had played a key role in the try, with a sumptuous back of the hand flick to wrong foot the Rhinos’ defence.
The score galvanised the visitors and when hooker Glyn Blakemore threw in to a 5 metre lineout and then got at the back of an unstoppable rolling maul there was only going to be one result. Now I am sure by the time he had left the Farriers Arms later that evening, the drive was more like 50 yards than 5.
This year’s try machine Paul Boulard grabbed the third on 19 minutes following the impressive Nate Backhouse’s midfield break. Although the flanker was pulled down inside the twenty-two, vice-captain Mark Lilley threw a dummy worthy of Ben Youngs, before popping to Boulard who raced over for his 12th try of the campaign.
Lilley with a delightful chip ahead, and Boulard who gathered the kick, combined to release the fastest skeleton in the west Richard Hall, who glided effortlessly past the covering defence for try number four.
At the break Shumake and Andy Storey swapped sides, whilst Dave Duncan replaced Allan Smith on the left wing. The changes made no difference to the Rhinos, as they extended their lead within a minute of the restart. This time it was Boulard’s centre partner Dwayne Rosie who benefited from Lilley’s slight of hand, although the Kiwi still had to twenty metres and three defenders to beat before reaching the line.
Justin Wheeler bundled over from short range for try number six shortly afterwards, the ball coming through the hands of Lilley and Rosie. Although he did miss the touchline conversion, he did add four others for a personal tally of thirteen points.
With the clock ticking down, Backhouse spoilt a good day’s work by ‘scoring’; unfortunately what he thought was the try-line was actually five metres in-field. However, his blushes were partly saved, as another strike against the head at the ensuing scrum, gave Collins the chance to get his second from short range.
For the second league game on the spin the Rhinos agreed to lend players to their opposition in order to get the game played. Big credit to Mike Alsen and his Franham Royal boys for getting the best part of team out for an early kick-off, and for playing their part in a thoroughly entertaining game. Sides like Farnham Royal and Kingsclere are helping to keep the spirit of rugby alive and the Rhinos applaud this. Hopefully the hospitality that these clubs get when they visit Holme Park will encourage them to continue to try and put sides out.
The win will see the Rhinos go into the festive season in second place in TVIL Division B, one point behind leaders Aylesbury IV, although third placed Bracknell Bulls can close the gap to one point if they beat Kingsclere II a week on Saturday.
Next week, a Rhinos XV will travel to Lansdown on the outskirts of Bath to play Walcot OB, as part of former skipper Marc McAdden’s stag weekend.
Then on Friday 16th December, you are cordially invited to the Rhinos Christmas Party.
This officially kicks-off at the Butler in Chatham Street at midday, and is a casual affair with friends old and new joining throughout the day. However, a few hardy and/or mad fools will get things started with breakfast and pint in the Hope Tap, Friar Street from 9am.