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Cobham V Sidcup

Sat 13th September 2008

London League 2 South

Cobham 14 Sidcup 16

Cobham celebrated the official opening of their new Club house in Fairmile Lane with the visit of top Kent side Sidcup, in the first match of the new League Season; and after two promotions in two years, losing only once in 44 games, hopes and expectations were high.

With well over 120 people attending the opening lunch preceding the game, and the unusual phenomenon of a little autumn sun, the touchline was packed and the crowd were duly entertained by a thrilling and absorbing encounter between two well matched teams, before Sidcup took the spoils after a last minute penalty attempt by Cobham hit a post.

Cobham started with 5 new recruits, with a 6th on the bench, but sadly were missing skipper Jack Davison, who is still recovering from a shoulder knock sustained against Civil Service two weeks ago. Cobham started nervously, conceding an early try when Sidcup’s winger Amura picked up on a loose pass and sprinted 40 metres to open proceedings; followed soon after by a fairly needless penalty at a ruck, giving Sidcup an 8 point lead after 15 minutes.

However, as the first half progressed, Cobham’s huge front row of Gus Darroch-Warren, Mark Bennet and new recruit Andy Alexander began to pressurize the Sidcup pack,  and Cobham quickly clawed back a couple of penalties, ably slotted by winger Aaron Cowell. With a further Cowell penalty just drifting wide, Cobham were perhaps unlucky to finish the first half 8 – 6 down.

The opening period of the second half was dominated by Cobham. After the nervousness of the first half, the forwards started to stamp their authority on the game, and after an exchange of penalties, prop Alexander finished off a fine period of pressure by driving over for a well deserved try. A further solid gold opportunity was missed when player-coach Bill Davison, inexplicably failed to drive over in the corner  a few minutes later. The major fault in Cobham’s gameplan seemed to be that they consistently tried to play Rugby from deep in their own half, whereas Sidcup, perhaps used to this higher level of Rugby, were content to exert pressure in defence, cut down space and capitalize on errors as and when they arose

Sidcup were never likely to just roll over, and patiently waited for an opening. Finally a speculative kick upfield from the Sidcup fullback was not gathered cleanly in midfield, and Sidcup pounced, driving quickly up field for flanker West to finish off in the corner to take a two point lead with ten minutes to play.

Cobham had one further chance to take the game with a penalty almost on the final whistle, but Cowell’s kick faded at the last and after clipping the nearside post, fell safe.

On the plus side, the devastation wreaked on the Sidcup front row at the scrum on a number of occasions was a joy to behold; and in general the forwards went well, although perhaps not producing the quality and speed of ball the Cobham backs have become used to in recent seasons; particularly off the line-out, where the traditional Cobham dominance for once failed to materialise. The eternally youthful Franks at scrum half made a nuisance of himself as usual all game, but behind the scrum the well organized Sidcup defense gave the classy Cobham backs little opportunity to demonstrate their undoubted abilities and it will have been a slightly frustrating afternoon, particularly for new recruits Kevin Fisher, Piers Morgan and Aaron Cowell; although full-back Nick Sutton showed one particular moment of individual brilliance midway through the second half in turning a very dangerous Sidcup kick ahead into his own in-goal area into a real try scoring opportunity for Cobham which was only averted by some desperate defence from Sidcup.

Cobham will have learnt much from this encounter; most notably that they will not always be able to run sides off their feet from well inside their own half, which they have been able to do in the past two seasons at lower levels; but there was every indication they will be competitive at this higher level and will without doubt have many better results than this to come.

See Get Surrey Press article

See Surrey Herald press article