Combe return to winning ways with a 10 try bonanza
By John Vallely
Westcombe Park RFC 70-12 Chobham RFC
Try hat-tricks from 2 of the backs, 10 tries and 10 conversions in all, a new half back combination and a re-jigged pack added up to an eventful afternoon at Goddington Dene. Westcombe Park had won the away fixture at Chobham with a 15 minute scoring blitz in the 2nd half and something similar would be needed to cure the pre and post Christmas hangover which had seen Combe lose three matches on the trot. As the score line shows the Alka Seltzer was successful to say the least.
The visitors were first to threaten, missing a penalty after a Combe scrum infringement and then having a try in the corner disallowed for an extravagant double movement from Chobham's left wing Charlie Andrews. 10 minutes had gone when the Dan Hamilton show started. In combination with his fellow wing Bradley Saffrey, Combe ran the ball from their own in goal area deep into opposition territory. Hamilton then showed his power and evasiveness to evade 3 tackle attempts to free hard-running flanker Dave Pohlen for the first try which was converted by Matt Harrison.
The second try came 10 minutes later after a strong thrust from prop Gabri Fernandez was only half stopped and that man Hamilton was on hand to pick up the loose ball to run in unopposed under the posts. The score was converted by Harrison to give Combe a 14-0 advantage. Chobham hit back 6 minutes later. From a scrum in Combe's 22 a quick heel was passed on swiftly to stand-off Josh Clark who dummied the defence and crossed for a score which was converted. 14-7.
Hamilton struck his second when first Pohlen made yards from a quick penalty to put newly recruited scrum half Jack Donovan in the clear to feed the winger 30 metres out. The first tackle was evaded and the next two attempts thwarted by a couple of powerful fends for Hamilton to cross the line. The conversion was successful.
With the half time whistle approaching, Combe secured the try bonus point. This time it was a Harry Sansbury/Dan Hamilton combination that made a 50 metre territorial gain to present Harrison with his first try which he converted to give a halftime score of 28-7 in Combe's favour.
Chobham again started the half strongly scoring after three minutes in similar fashion to their first with stand off Clark scoring from quick scrum ball to reduce the deficit. However the stuffing was knocked out of the visitors in a frantic two minute period when Harrison completed his hat-trick with 2 identical tries. Pressure from the Combe back row twice forced Chobham to drop the ball in midfield for the gleeful centre to pick up and run in untouched. Harrison converted the first and debutant stand off Alex Cahill scored his first points for Combe with the second conversion. 42-12 for Combe.
Combe were now dominant and were determined to allow the visitors no relief. Captain O'Sullivan made a great line out steal, Saffrey gained yards with a huge clearance kick and Combe stalwart Tom Clarke epitomised the hard work of all the Combe forwards with a storming run.
Combe hammered home their advantage in the final 15 minutes as Chobham heads understandably dropped a wee bit. First score was a penalty try, followed by Harrison completing his hat-trick again pouncing on loose ball, hooker Archie Holland was next on the score sheet with a close quarter score after a thrust down the left and Saffrey completed the try scoring with a minute left crossing wide out. Cahill slotted all the conversions with a level of calm which belied his years.
So a Happy New Year comes to Combe with a complete performance all around the team. A much happier clubhouse welcomed back both sets of players and it is to the visitors' credit, both players and spectators, that they stayed for some time to enjoy Combe hospitality.
Next week Combe are away to Hove who are struggling at the foot of the table but Westcombe Park will need to remain on their mettle to build on this performance.
Westcombe Park RFC: Fernandez, Holland, Simmons T, Clarke, O'Sullivan, Milligan, Pohlen, Pass, Donovan, Cahill, Saffrey, Harrison, Beckett, Sansbury
Replacements: Simmons T, Dennett, Smith
Player of the match: Dan Hamilton
Match Report:John Vallely