Match report by Gerry Murphy
Counties League 1 Surrey/Sussex
Trinity 29 Twickenham 19
A man in front at kick-off (happens at every international but is ignored!) meant that Trinity had to come back for a scrum on half-way but it was soon evident that in this department they would have the upper hand.
The powerful front row of Jacques Bryant, Ali Hall and Jack Whitewood were in complete charge and forced a penalty. Ben Telfer kicked to the corner and drives from Hall and Whitewood were just held up. Twickenham won a turnover but Mids came repeatedly and it seemed they must score. They were camped in the visitors’ 22 for long periods but could not force their way through a dour defence. Four times in the first quarter Twickenham managed to win turnovers. They then managed to break out of defence and it was clear that they had some very talented runners. Only a fine tap-tackle by Telfer stopped them breaking away.
Eventually the pressure did tell and on 20 minutes Trinity scrum half Harry Wilson made a break, chipped ahead and won the chase to enable him to unload to winger Ty Williams who scored in the corner. Trinity continued to dominate and Twickenham’s defence was heroic. They won two more turnovers and held out in the face of the home assault. Farooq Agbalaya and Rob Farmer made some powerful runs and the scrum continued to keep Twickenham pinned in their half. They did break out once and had a chance when Telfer’s kick was charged down but Max Maynard, who had come on for the injured Marc McEvilly tidied up very well. Eventually the dominance of the home side told when, on 38 minutes, after a penalty won by the scrum a kick to the corner set up a line-out for Tom Black to soar high and the ball was moved quickly left for Telfer to run an excellent line and speed to the line. Dan crouch converted and Trinity were well worth their 12-0 lead.
This seemed to spur on Twickenham and they surged into the Mids’ half and applied pressure. Trinity won back possession but, as the clock ticked towards the interval they tried to run out of defence, instead of hoofing the ball down the field. Twickenham competed well and won a penalty and then another. This meant that they were allowed time to hold possession, drive a powerful maul on and then let the ball out to their talented backs and put in centre Sam Griffin for a try. Fly half Tom Foster converted and Trinity, for all their territory and possession, had but a 12-7 lead at the interval.
Twickenham started the second half well with a wind and slight slope advantage and briefly threatened but a fine tap tackle by Andy Dean and a classic turnover by Ollie Hubbard, who had been his usual busy self all afternoon, won a penalty. The ensuing line out was lost, though it must be said that this feature of Mids’ play was much improved from the previous match. Good throwing and fine takes by Dave Spedding and Tom Black had given Trinity much better possession this week.
Spedding also distinguished himself with an impressive turnover.
A huge Mids’ scrum augured well for the hosts but Twickenham No.8 Nick Smith somehow picked the ball out of a retreating pack and set off on a powerful run which saw him outstrip all the cover and skip past two tackles and cross for a fine individual try. Foster’s conversion gave the visitors a 14-12 lead. Trinity were not daunted. Another fine take by Black enabled them to drive forward. Hall made one of his several strong runs and a high tackle gave a penalty in the 22. Mids took a scrum and then, despite strong defence by Twickenham, moved the ball right where a dextrous slip-pass from Maynard enabled Hall to get the touchdown. Crouch’s excellent conversion put Trinity 19-14 ahead with half an hour left.
Twickenham had suffered a yellow card in these exchanges but they came again when they held their scrum and that man Smith again outpaced everybody for his second try. The scores were now level but an injury to Whitewood removed the strong hold Trinity had held in the scrum up to this point. Archie McMillan, who has some front row experience moved to hooker and acquitted himself well in the role. Mids now scored their best try when they surged into the 22, Black took a bullet of a pass at pace and drove through to set up the ruck from which they moved the ball left for Williams to score in the left corner and win a bonus point. Trinity were now in charge and scored again when the outstanding Farmer made a searing break and fed Krish Lall who powered over.
Twickenham competed to the end but Mids were a much tighter outfit this weekend and when it came to running the clock down they picked and drove flawlessly.
Match photos from Neil Pepper.