SURREY LEAGUE THREE
REEDS WEYBRIDGE 32pts OLD JOHNIANS 25pts
Reeds are chasing hard for promotion this season, to do that they needed the win against Johnians and you could sense the nervousness that prevailed amongst the Reeds players and the spectators, whatever the reason Reeds lacked some of their usual fluidity which has been the hallmark of their performances so far.
Johnians by contrast had nothing to lose, they were quite happy to run the ball around from all over the park and they did that rather well causing Reeds all sorts of problems. It was young Mike Woollatt the winger that opened the scoring for Reeds after he touched down by the flag, but Johnians hit back straight from the restart when Reeds were not able to collect the kick and in the ruck that followed Reeds strayed offside and Johnians collected the penalty.
Much of Reeds success this year has been their ability to run the ball out of the most unpromising situations, it is high risk but it has produced some memorable tries, perhaps this was a game where safety first would have been the better option.
Johnians first try of the afternoon came from a move that Reeds had initiated within their own 22, Johnians attackers were up in force, snuffed out the Reeds move, recycled the ball and touched down in the corner. Although Reeds were certainly rattled by that they had the best of the territory by way of their dominance in the tight scrums where their two prop forwards, Ben Lewis and Davin Samuel shunted the visitors around for most of the first half, and they won all their own ball in the lineout, and it was from a catch and drive lineout move that put Reeds into the lead, five metres out, a clean catch and Adam Smith drove over the line.
When skipper Billy Maddock was put away following a sublime dummy from scrum half Josh Clarke it looked as if Reeds were firmly in charge, more so when Alex Corner Reeds influential No 8 hammered his way over the line from twenty metres out. However, on the stroke of half time, Reeds made a real mess of the restart, Johnians pounced and it was a try under the sticks, game on with just seven points between the two sides, but Reeds had the hill and the breeze in their favour in that second half, surely that possession would turn into points.
But it didn’t work out like that, the Johnians prop left the field injured, as no replacement was available the game was played with uncontested scrums, the result of that was Reeds scrummage dominance was negated, the Johnians backs were able to collect their scrummage ball without the pressure of the scrum going backwards and Reeds similarly were not able to put their backs away with the defence back pedalling.
That freedom was just what the Johnians backs wanted, and they had the runners to do it, none better than their skipper James Reid, the full back, he is seriously quick and with dazzling feet as well, he was a real handful and he so nearly won the game for the visitors. It was his work that allowed the Johnians winger to touch down close to the flag, it brought the visitors to within two points of Reeds and with Johnians running the ball from all parts Reeds were on the ropes.
It was in those nervous moments that Reeds No 8 Alex Corner won the Man of the Match award, his contribution in both defence and attack when the game was on a knife edge was a significant factor, if there was a joint award, it would have gone to their prop forward Davin Samuel, his fitness around the park and ferocious loose play was a crucial element. In those last ten minutes Reeds finally managed to stretch their lead to a two try margin, but with a couple minutes left on the clock Johnians were in under the sticks, one more try and they could draw the game, it was a nail biting finish but Johnny Rogers banged the ball into the next field to finish the game.
Reeds promotion hopes now rest with their outstanding game against the Police, if Reeds win they go up, if Reeds lose and concede a bonus point the Police will be promoted.