Westcombe Park RFC 28-41 Camberley RFC
By John Vallely
Saffrey hat-trick but Camberley stretch away in 2nd half for the win
That Combe held a 21-15 lead at half time was founded mainly on some fee running moves and slick handling from the backs. Three converted tries were scored and with only a minute of the half to go Westcombe Park were 13 points clear but a period of sustained Camberley pressure resulted in a try to reduce the deficit to 6 points.
The visitors had opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Combe were penalised for illegal wheeling a scrum. The kick was duly slotted. Combe hit back quickly with a smooth backs move which ended with a long pass from Ryan Fuller to man of the match Bradley Saffrey to score in the left corner. Matt Harrison's conversion was successful.
Camberley hit back 5 minutes later, retaking the lead with a converted try. The visitors had quickly broken from defence and Combe coughed up a penalty. This was speedily taken and after a couple of phases the try was scored.
22 minutes had elapsed when Combe in turn re-took the lead. Blind side George Milligan did well to hook a loose ball back in to the scrum and quick hands from the backs outmanoeuvred the Camberley defence for Saffrey to add a second try on the left wing. Again Harrison slotted the extra points.
Combe's midfield defence was stifling any Camberley attacks with a James Lindfield trademark crunching tackle standing out as well as a turnover won from a held up maul. 5 minutes of the half remained when Westcombe Park extended their lead. Combe's line-out was functioning well and, from a effective drive, the ball was spun left for Saffrey to complete his hat trick. Harrison added the conversion.
But Camberley showed why they are in contention for promotion. They came back hard at Combe who had to resort to a wee bit of illegality to stop the score which resulted in a penalty and a yellow card. Camberley elected to scrum the penalty and with Combe down to 14 men the defence opened up for the visitors to score.
Halftime : WPRFC 21-15 Camberley RFC
A converted try for Camberley only a minute into the second period not only restored their lead but underlined that the visitors must have had a strict talking to from their coaching team. Combe failed to clear their lines from the kick off giving Camberley a relatively easy run in. A further score came 4 minutes later. Camberley won clean ball from a solid scrum in Combe's 22m and when their backline attacked Combe's defence opened and the gap was exploited for the score.
It seemed to be all Camberley pressure at this point. Combe's running was not as free flowing as in the first half as a result of Camberley success in slowing down Combe ball at the breakdown. The visitors were also gobbling up the metres in attack with hooker Emerton and No 8 Duaibe to the fore. Camberley's lead increased to 36-21 with 52 minutes gone with a try wide on the right and the game was moving beyond the Goddington Dene side.
However, the home team fought back hard and, despite a penalty miss, they added a 4th try for the bonus point. The move started with a trademark Milligan run which was stopped illegally when a Combe player was taken off the ball. The kick went to the corner and, from the throw, a well constructed maul was set up which motored over the line for the try which was converted. Combe 26 Camberley 36.
With around 15 minutes left there was the chance that Combe could add a try losing bonus point but with 10 minutes to go this hope was stifled when the visitors scored their sixth try when they put the ball through a number of hands to score on the wing.
In the last 5 minutes Westcombe had their chances chiefly through a couple of attacking mauls but these came to naught and the game ended with Camberley worthy winners at 41-28.
As expected this was a high scoring game and the lead changed hands as few times in the first period. Camberley's half time team talk seemed to do the trick with the 2 tries immediately after the restart giving them the impetus for the win. 4 tries for Westcombe Park will encourage the home side as the final games of the season approach with Combe going to the seaside next week to play Havant.
Westcombe Park RFC: Simmons J., Dehaarte, Simmons T., Pass, Dennett, Milligan, Pohlen, Lindfield, Donovan, Harrison, Saffrey, Atiola, Beckett, Fuller, Church-Mills
Replacements: Eames, Cox, Birch.
Combe Man of the Match: Bradley Saffrey
Match Report: John Vallely