TRINITY A XV 63-0 PURLEY JOHN FISHER IINovember 10, 2023
TRINITY 22-42 KCS OLD BOYSNovember 20, 2023
Old Cranleighans 24 Trinity 36
The first scrum immediately showed that Trinity would have a huge advantage in the game and given the league positions of the teams, they were expecting to do well in this fixture. They were wary of the fact that, despite a similar situation last season, they had been beaten by OCs both home and away and so felt that they had something to prove.
Things looked rosy for the visitors when the scrum penalty awarded was kicked by Dan Crouch to the 22, a good take by Farooq Agbalaya in the line out enabled Marc McEvilly to drive forward and strong support from Ty Williams gave the opportunity to Nathan Bacon to force his way over for a try, converted by Jack Greenwood after 3 minutes. Mids supporters were now looking forward to plenty from their team, but it was Cranleighans who made the running for the next 10 minutes. Mids were overthrowing at the line out and the powerful runners in the home team were exploiting the space in midfield to drive down to the corner. A fine turnover by Max Maynard stemmed the flow and Trinity’s scrum allowed them to win more penalties when Cranleigh knocked on. However, the hosts kept the pressure on and, when Trinity’s scrum conceded a free kick for an early push, OCs ran to the corner and scored. 5-7 after 13 minutes.
Trinity now had plenty of possession but kept losing the ball when they let it out and Cranleigh looked dangerous as they broke away with good handling moves. A fine tackle by Williams stopped one scoring chance for the home team and Greenwood put in another good hit. Trinity eventually managed to sustain possession. Another line out take by Agbalaya set the line running right, two strong bursts from Bacon took the ball on and swift handling left, including a spectacular overhead flick by Crouch created the space for Williams to score after 33 minutes. Greenwood converted. Cranleighans now created several attacks and Trinity had to defend well to compensate for the way they were aiding their opponents, particularly in continuing to lose line out ball. Olly Hubbard put in a strong tackle and, fortunately, Mids were able to rely on the scrum to win them more penalties which allowed them to clear. OCs were not helped by suffering a yellow card. There was no further score before half time with Trinity ahead 14-5.
Maynard featured prominently in the early phases of the second half, first with a quick chase of the kick off and then with a good run down the line to win valuable ground. James Jenkins too put in some sterling work and made a nuisance of himself. On 47 minutes Trinity were awarded a penalty and, when Agbalaya ran it quickly, he was tackled immediately which meant that the tackler was carded just as the first yellow card period was over for Cranleighans. Mids took a scrum which they drove, forcing another scrum penalty and, when they took the scrum again, they were deep into the 22 and gave Bacon the platform to batter the line and give Adam Stammers the chance to score. Greenwood’s kick was good, and Trinity looked comfortable with a 21-5 lead against 14 men. OCs refused to die down and in a purple patch of running rugby scored three quick tries, two of which they converted to lead 24-21 with a quarter of the match still to go. They had the momentum now, with a try bonus and had been restored to full strength.
Trinity must be given credit for not panicking in the face of this onslaught. Greenwood was conspicuous in his call to arms and the epitome of sheer desire to stop the rot. Back they came with a sensible period of picking and driving and kept possession. They worked their way downfield and, when they forced a penalty in the 22, Dan Crouch, playing advantage, chipped into the generous in-goal area and McEvilly followed up to touch down after it seemed that a Cranleighan defender had not grounded the ball properly. The referee disagreed but the inevitable Trinity scrum enabled Agbalaya to break off and set up Stammers for his second try and a bonus point for his team. Trinity continued to keep it tight and forced another penalty. This was kickable but they opted for the scrum and moved the ball forward to give Greenwood a much closer opportunity when the unfortunate home pack was pinged again. This he took and Trinity were ahead 29 -24 with 9 minutes remaining. Two minutes from the end Cranleigh attacked again but knocked on deep in the visitors’ 22 and Mids expected to clear their lines from the resultant scrum. For a second time the referee was not happy, and a free kick awarded to OCs gave them an opportunity to steal the match. They drove for the line but were penalised for rolling over in possession and Crouch relieved the pressure. Trinity now swept downfield, and Greenwood celebrated a turnover to put McEvilly over for the final score which the scrum half converted to seal victory.
Cranleigh will be gutted, having played so much good rugby. The score rather flattered Trinity in the end but they can thank their scrum, with a makeshift front five, all of whom contributed to the power of the unit, for giving them the opportunity to gain a victory which looked like eluding them for the second time this season. Sensible play later in the game shows that they can close out a game. Farooq’s determined example in strong running and physical commitment showed the way. Matt Shields put in a solid performance and kept things calm in defence. Callum True put in another promising performance as a replacement and Tim Cochrane contributed well to the dominant pack.
The relieved Mids supporters will be looking forward to a tighter performance on Saturday when the return of several key players will strengthen the squad against powerful opposition in KCS Old Boys.
Match report by Gerry Murphy
TRIBE ADVISORY PLAYER OF THE MATCH – JACQUES BRYANT