REEDS WEYBRIDGE 34pts CRANLEIGH 21pts – SURREY LEAGUE 2
A packed touchline crowd down at Whiteley Village last Saturday saw Reeds Weybridge collect a bonus point win to put them clear of the chasing pack at the top of the table to ensure they will be crowned champions on April 14th, Haileyburians, the league runners up, won convincingly, and bar a disastrous run in they will be joining Reeds in Surrey 1 next season.
Reeds knew they were in for a battle royal from the visitors, Cranleigh who had lost by just one point to Reeds in their home fixture and skipper Luke Edwardes knew that if they could collect a bonus point win they were still in with a shout for a second place finish and promotion. Reeds, down the slope in the first half, knew they needed to clock up at least a two try advantage to enable them to defend the slope in the second half.
But Cranleigh had arrived with a monster pack that included prop forward Peter Barraud and he created all sorts of problems for Reeds front five in the tight scrummages, as they conceded a string of penalties and were pinned down deep in their own half. However, the Cranleigh line outs didn’t function well and that allowed Reeds lock forwards Herbie Finn and Simon Fozard to snatch possession away on a regular basis throughout the game, even when under huge pressure close to their line.
That work along with some shuddering defensive tackles from the Reeds back row kept their line intact, but out wide with Pete Davidge the ring master firing the ball out wide with quick passes Reeds looked very dangerous, Chris Stegmann the full back coming in to the line at serious pace was a constant threat and with the possession being recycled so quickly as well the Cranleigh cover was stretched. Reeds first try was initiated by scrum half Ollie Palmer, he is a real handful in these situations, stealing away quickly from the penalty he spun the ball out wide and there was Stegmann to batter his way over, Pete Davidge knocked the conversion over, quickly followed by a penalty and Reeds were into a slightly edgy lead.
Just before the change round, Reeds stretched their advantage when Ollie Palmer just managed to squeeze his way over with three defenders hanging on to him, seventeen points to the good at the change round, not quite the lead Reeds wanted but against a hugely competitive Cranleigh side it was good going.
It got even better early in the second half, Dan Veale the Reeds winger who hasn’t had too many outings for the top side this season, certainly made his mark in this game, his first try of the day needed a determined finish, young Joe Wastie the back row forward put Veale away fifteen metres out and with the cover ready to send him into the touchline, but head down he was try line bound to score by the flag, a siege gun conversion from Pete Davidge had Reeds in the box seat. Mid way through the second half came the Cranleigh fight back, Reeds made a mess of a restart by straying offside and from the ensuing penalty and five metre lineout prop forward Pete Barraud bashed his way over the line with Cameron Page adding the extras from way out. But then came the high point of the game, winger Dan Veale was fed the ball on the half way line, nothing looked on but Veale is such a silky runner, full of guile and pace and the ability to slide through the smallest gaps, the defence just couldn’t get hold of him and he beat three or four men with ease and was under the sticks for a converted try.
If there had been a Man of the Match Award he surely would have taken it. The clock was was running down for the visitors, they didn’t have enough time to overhaul Reeds lead but they might just get a four try bonus point, they came close with a penalty try and another rolling maul scored from prop Peter Barraud but it was all too late, Reeds collected the five points and confirmed their place as league winners.
But before the celebrations can begin in earnest, there are two league fixtures left, on April 7th away to Bec Old Boys on their dramatically sloping pitch and the last home game of the season on April 14th to Old Paulines.
Man of the Match
On a day when Reeds clinched promotion coach Connell awarded Man of the Match to the entire team for their performance during the game and over the course of the season.