Reeds Weybridge U21s WIN Surrey Plate final for second consecutive season beating Guildford rfc 23-22
Following the plate semi final win 33-15 against Chipstead under floodlights at Whiteley Village last Thursday, on bank holiday Monday the U21s headed to Dorking to defend the plate final against Guildford who were newcomers to the Surrey U21 competition this season.
With a somewhat depleted squad of 17 due to injuries and unavailabilities and the late call up of Joe Pompei coupled with Dan Veale travelling up from Wales, Reeds started on the back foot.
Guildford starting strongly and raced to a 17-0 lead with their fullback and right wing making the most of any opportunities. Reeds were not going down without a fight and with the Reeds bench introduced into the attack there was an immediate impact from the introduction of Dan Veale in the centres and Joe Pompei on the wing the side looked more balanced and allowed Reeds to have some good possession and pressure deep in Guildford territory which was rewarded when Jack Smith drove across the Guildford line with two defenders hanging off him to touch down to the right of the posts. Comfortably converted by the ever reliable boot of Josh Clark. The fightback by Reeds had commenced, 17-7 to Guildford.
As anyone will know who has had the privilege of watching the U21s this season we do not have the largest pack but what we lack in size is made up in power and technique, so the front row of Davin Samuels, Dan Turner and Jack Smith, coupled with the second row pairing of Ed Scott and Herbie Finn with Si Fozzard at no 8 and Sam Wastie and Bengy Lado Byrnes on the flanks worked tirelessly to gain advantage. Their efforts were rewarded as Guildford’s larger pack began to go backwards. Coupled with young Charlie Phillips at scrum half providing quick ball to the Reeds back line Reeds were beginning to secure some possession.
As the half progressed a certain lack of discipline by Guildford resulted in a series of penalties to Reeds which eventually resulted in a kickable penalty for being offside which was slotted home by Josh Clark to take the score up to 17-10 which was the score when the halftime whistle was blown. So having played up the slope and into the wind 10 points down at half time everything was to play for in the second half.
After words of encouragement from coaches and captain Herbie Finn at halftime the second half started well with Reeds pressing Guildford back in their half. It was Reeds who were the first to score when Guildford were penalized for not releasing on their 22 in front of the posts which was again kicked by Josh Clark 17-13, but a Reeds come back was averted when pressure from Guildford stretched the Reeds defense resulting in a Guildford score in the left hand corner which was crucially failed to be converted making the score 22-13 , however Reeds went down to 14 men as a result of a desperate attempt to stop the Guildford attack resulting in a yellow card.
Reeds defended resolutely with one man down coupled with strategic kicking by Josh Clark behind the Guildford line and Guildford missing a very kickable penalty in front of the posts there was no change to the score by the end of the sin binning period and Reeds were back to 15 men. It was not long however before Guildford were reduced to 14 men when a Reeds maul from a line out was deemed to be deliberately collapsed on the Guildford 5 m line. Again Josh Clark slotted home the resulting penalty from close range 22-16 to Guildford and all to play for. Guildford continued to use their bench to bring on fresh legs and Reeds were suffering from injuries of their own with Buffy Brickhill and Jamie Gibbins back on the pitch but with Reeds ‘never say die attitude’ which was epitimised by winger Alex Dalrymple who after coming off injured himself went back on the pitch when Bengy hobbled off to keep 15 men on the pitch.
With 10 mins to go Reeds continued to press for advantage down the slope and Buffy Brickhall went close from another driving maul but desperate defense by Guildford managed to hold the ball up over the line. Guildford lack of discipline continued to work in Reeds favor and after the third infringement at the scrum and with two minutes to play remaining the referee went to the posts to award a penalty try to Reeds which again was converted from in front of the posts by Josh Clark, 23-22 to Reeds. Reeds had edged in front for the first time in the game with two minutes of play remaining. The drama continued as on the stroke of full time Guildford were awarded a penalty 35 m out and the Reeds supporters watched on nervously as Guildford kicked to win the game, but the kick was short and the full time whistle was blown and an exhausted Reeds team cheered as the celebrations commenced!
It was a remarkable team performance and the man of the match could of gone to any of the 17 players who had fought tirelessly all afternoon, Adam Lomax with an exceptional performance at full back, captain Herbie Finn lead from the front as always, Si Fozzard worked tirelessly in defense and attack, Sam Wastie and Bengy put in huge shifts, Josh Clark’s control and kicking at 10 kept Reeds in the game, front row of Davin Samuels, Dan Turner and Jack Smith were excellent, Charlie Phillips never took a backward step at scrum half but it was a battered Chris Steggman who playing at outside centre who was always at the centre of the attack and resolute in defense who was our MOM.
So special thanks to the U21s who were playing their last game for the U21s today Herbie Finn, Si Fozzard, Alex Dalrymple, Jack Smith, Dan Veale, Jamie Gibbins and those not playing Matt Connell, Malcolm Harding and Freddie Higgs who we wish every success playing for the seniors in the years to come but thanks to everyone who played today and over the course of the U21 campaign this season. The U21s provide a vital pathway from youth to senior rugby that the club is very proud and is the envy of many more senior clubs in Surrey. Rugby is a is a team game on and off the pitch so many thanks to coaches Nige Connell, Rod Jermy, Pete Rowe and Toby Blyther, Katie for providing physio support and the supporters on the sidelines who cheered every tackle made and point scored. Thanks to the referees and touch judges and Dorking for hosting the U21s finals day.
The Reeds magnificent 17 were truly magnificent on the day and I am sure that there were many future 1stXV team players on the pitch today and I for one look forward to watching all of them playing for the 1st XV in the years to come, but with five U18s in the team it made victory even sweeter.
So another successful U21 season comes to a close and one where we have definitely punched above our weight, where we ended the season undefeated and won the Surrey U21 plate final for the second consecutive season, roll on next year!