Reeds Share the Spoils with Reigatians in a scintillating finale
REEDS WEYBRIDGE 20 OLD REIGATIANS 20
This top of the table clash was billed as a title-impacting decider and it certainly matched the expectations of the huge crowd that witnessed an enthralling contest between two evenly matched sides. In the early season game, Reigatians had defeated Reeds by a twenty plus points margin, the league table shows that they have scored the highest number of points and that they are the leaders in the try bonus point stakes, clearly, Reeds were going to have to be at their best to defend their long unbeaten home record in the leagues which stretches back to 1 April 2017 (no joke!). They were down the slope in the first half, but struggled to get much quality possession going forward, there were some fearsome exchanges in the loose rucks and mauls and it was in this department that No 8 Alex Corner earned his Man of the Match award with his penetrating excursions, he is so quick and strong, combined with a real presence at the breakdown. But it was the visitors who saw the best of the possession in the first quarter, with some serious nous and pace out wide that caused Reeds all sorts of defensive issues. Quick passing, that outpaced Reeds cover, threatened Reeds line and finally young Finn Coyle the winger was over the line for a seven pointer. Given the territorial advantage Reigatians had enjoyed it was a fair reflection of the game. Reeds were up against a set of backs who were quick and elusive who ran everything, maybe in those early exchanges, Reeds should have retained more of the possession rather trying to go wide too soon, kick for territory, or make one off-load too many. Down the slope, Reeds needed to clock up a few points, Josh Clark slotted a penalty and then after Reeds had begun to wrest control of the game in the second quarter with a number of penetrating breaks but where the final pass either went astray or the scramble Reigatian defence simply too good, Reeds finally broke through to score close to the break. Chris Stegmann the winger entered the line tracking across from the other side of the pitch and was put away by his opposite winger Joe Moriarty to squeeze in for a try close to the flag. With the conversion missed, it was a one-point lead for Reeds at the change round, 8 – 7, but now they were up the hill.
Reeds started brightly with a brief period of sustained pressure but Reigatians slowly began to make use of the slope and gain control of the game. With any possession being fed to those pacy men outside, Reeds were forced into defensive mode, and whilst they were solid enough in the set piece and in command of the line outs, those Reigatian backs were a real handful especially in broken play, quick hands providing space.
With Reed co-skipper, Billy Maddock, sin-binned for pulling down a maul close to the Reeds try line, the Reeds cover was stretched and it was Finn Coyle the winger who eventually found a gap and collected his second try of the afternoon out wide. Moments later Reeds were penalised at scrum time, Harry Sergeant the Reigatian fly half slotted a straightforward penalty giving the visitors a seven-point cushion at 8 – 15. Reeds were getting their fair share of the ball which allowed Olly Palmer, the scrum half and Pete Davidge the No 10 to launch attacks deep in Reigatian territory, Joe Moriarty the winger had some devastating runs, but some last-ditch tackles kept the line secure. That last quarter will remain in the memories of spectators and players for a very long time. It started when Harry Sergeant dummied his way over for a great solo unconverted try giving a twelve-point lead for the visitors at 8 – 20, with 8 minutes left on the clock. Surely the game was up? There cannot have been many on the touchline who thought Reeds, with the clock against them, up the slope, against a strong defensive side could get back in the game, crucially however, Reeds, led by Billy Maddock had a different mindset. Out on the wing Joe Moriarty, a one-man demolition squad who had already had some defence busting runs that had brought him close to the try line, ignited Reeds hopes when he took a ball in an unpromising situation and used his strength and power to break through a number of attempted tackles for an unconverted try, Reeds were back in the game but the clock was against them with three minutes on the clock. Reeds threw everything at the defence, their play in those final minutes being irresistible with a flowing series of rucks and mauls that showed superb continuity and a belief their processes and recycling capability. Whilst Reigate defenced staunchly Reeds refused to throw in the towel and a series of rucks and mauls brought Reeds close to the line where a penalty was given for offside. Herbie Finn the big lock forward and co-skipper took the ball up to within half a metre of the line and it was Reeds other co-skipper Billy Maddock who squeezed over by the flag to make it 18 – 20. The clock was on red, a successful conversion would draw the game, step up the coolest man on the park, ‘Pistol’ Pete Davidge, Reeds fly half. You could hear a pin drop as he lined up the kick, it wasn’t one of his best-looking kicks but it crept over just inside the post and the Reeds supporters and players went ballistic. Reigate in comparison were beside themselves, realising perhaps that their shot at winning the league was now fading away. The fact that Reeds had come back from a twelve-point deficit with little time left says plenty about their iron mind set and superb fitness.
Reeds 2nd XV comprehensively outplayed their Reigatian counterparts to win their game 58 – 7.
Next week sees REEDS 1ST XV take a well-earned break before resuming their league campaign against Chiswick.
George Spinks 28th Jan 2022