Camberley showed just why they are one of the main promotion hopes again this season. The visitors put in a powerful performance and stifled Westcombe Park's attacking ambitions to such an extent that the homeside failed to secure either a try or a losing bonus point. Weather conditions weren't conducive to the attacking Rugby of early season and a combination of uncharacteristic handling errors and close quarter Camberley efforts kept Combe chasing the game.
The visitors started strongly, camping in and around the Combe 22 right from the off. As the saying goes pressure tells in the end and it was no great surprise when Camberley crashed over after building a number of phases deep in the home 22. The conversion was successful. Combe hit back relatively quickly. With 10 minutes on the clock a strong scrum produced good ball for scrum half Nick Hill to whip the ball to Matt Harrison who broke the defensive line for winger Dom Lespierre to sidewind past 3 defenders to score out wide. The conversion was kicked and the score was 7 apiece.
8 minutes later Camberley were back in front. The Surrey side again built up a head of steam in and around the home 22 and, following a series of close quarter drives, crossed for their second try which was converted. Camberley added a further 3 points when Combe were penalised at a scrum. Camberley's maul defence was up to the mark preventing Combe from winning the necessary field position to unleash their backs.
With 30 minutes gone Combe mounted an impressive 10 phase attack but any chance faded with the ball being lost. Combe kept the pressure up and Camberley were forced to concede several penalties on the trot to keep the homeside at bay. Harrison slotted the last of these to make the score 10-17.
Westcombe Park ended the half on a high when a fine run by Hamilton, who had impressed at winning a couple of Combe restarts, was halted by a solid tackle by Camberley veteran full back Tom Allen.
Half time Westcombe 10-17 Camberley
Harrison got his second penalty of the day 4 minutes after the restart. Harry Sansbury at full back ran the ball back to great effect and Combe maintained good field position in the Camberley half. Camberley were caught offside and the standoff was accurate with the kick. 13-17 to the visitors.
Scrums had been a bit of a lottery throughout the match with both sides being penalised for infringing the Laws. Combe coughed up a couple of such penalties and, although the first kick was missed the second was successful to give the visitors a 20-13 lead with 25 minutes to play.
Westcombe Park got to within a couple of points on the 20 minute mark. Flanker Sean Beckett was making life tough for Camberley around the fringes helping Combe to get front foot ball. Play had been swirling in and around the Camberley danger zone but good defence had kept Combe at bay but at the expense of a sin binning.The ball was then spun wide to full back replacement Joel Medcraft who scored out wide.
But with 10 minutes to go Camberley put the seal on a well won victory. Westcombe Park were defending desperately and suffered their own reduction in numbers. Camberley, after some confusion, elected to scrum the penalty and succeeded in shoving the depleted Combe pack over the line for their third and final try. With a successful conversion the visiting side denied the Goddington Dene team the consolation of a losing bonus point. Final score 18-27.
A sobering result for Combe underlying how competitive the top of the league is. Full credit to Camberley who did all the hard unseen work that is needed when the weather worsens and victories have to be hard earned. Combe visit Beckenham next week hoping to mark their neighbour's 125 anniversary celebrations with an away win.
Man of the match for Combe : Sean Beckett