Camberley Storm to Playoffs with 14 try Win
Camberley Storm to Playoffs with 14 try Win
So Cam welcomed Portsmouth to Watchetts for the final league game of the season with clear blue skies, a hard, dry pitch and the temperature into the 20's - in stark contrast to the wet and grey conditions when the two sides met in the first League game of 2016/17 season. Way back then all the talk from the Pompey fans was about their drive for promotion to London 1 this season, while Cambo were the new 'kids on the block' having just been promoted. That game, which was won by Camberley 18-26, saw a very physical home side edged out by a young, inexperienced and very pacey Camberley – how things have changed over the course of the season.
Pompey arrived at Watchetts desperately needing to follow up their win last week against 3rd placed Old Reigatians to avoid the risk of relegation while Cam needed to win to ensure a home playoff game against the runners up in LSE2.
In the event we saw that the visitors had changed little from the start of the season – a big physical pack with very little else to offer. However this time their big weapon was driven back by the Camberley eight on a number of occasions to the delight of coaches Gareth and Alan and the Cambo backs seemed to be able to slice through a very poor defence at will from any part of the pitch resulting in them scoring 14 tries in a feast of expansive rugby – what a difference in 7 months.
The game started with both sides testing each other out but following a couple of good scrums by Cam it was already very apparent how the balance had changed since the first meeting and on 10 mins from a scrum on the Cam 22 a good break by Ollie saw him feed Oyoni who made good yards before feeding his fellow winger Laz for the opening try which saw Smarty add the extras.
The second try was created from the restart when we saw hooker Dylan almost through on his own but when he was tackled the ball was quickly recycled and moved out wide again to Oyoni who showed some dazzling footwork to cross for the second try on 13 mins.
Again from the restart the visitors were stunned when Laz again collected the ball and made good ground before passing to Steve Hastings whose charge took play into the visitors 22 again and when the ball was recycled HT showed his pace to race in from 25m for another converted try.
And the game was as good as over on 19mins when, a mistake at the restart saw Cam scrumming down on their 22. Twice the visitors were forcibly driven backwards and from the second scrum the ball was worked to Laz who outpaced the entire Pompey defence to score from 70m and with Smarty again adding the extras the score had reached 26-0 and the bonus point already secured.
As so often happens when we reach this stage focus and discipline go AWOL and so it did on this occasion when several poor decisions gave the visitors the opportunity to apply pressure and this resulted in a try a after 25 mins.
From the restart Pompey collected and kicked deep into the Cam half – it became clear that the visitors had not learned from our previous encounter when it was so obvious that the one thing they needed to avoid was to kick to the Cam back three – however Oyoni, as he does, ran the ball back neatly chipping his opposite number and collecting the ball before releasing Josh Wright who then found brother Ollie whose clever chip was collected by hooker Dylan who made no mistake with the line at his mercy.
Again, another concentration lapse and despite another great scrum Pompey crossed for a try on 31 mins which was converted.
Despite several 'almost' tries it was 10 mins before the black and ambers troubled the scorer again but when it came it once more showed the pace and skill which runs throughout the side. It started, as many of the Cam tries did, from well within their own half with Ollie picking up a loose ball before feeding HT. He was supported by TK and then Hoff who drew the final defender before releasing Hughsey who dotted down under the posts for an easy conversion for Smarty.
Although the clock showed 40 mins there was still time for more drama. With Cam losing the restart Pompey set up a series of drives but these were well managed by the black and ambers D until we had a handbag moment right infront of the posts which resulted in a player from each side taking an early 10min break and the visitors managed to force their way over for a converted try on the half time whistle.
Clearly reinvigorated by Risey's half time chat Cam were immediately on the attack when TommyA ran the restart out of his half before passing to HT whose neat chip was collected by Dyl and lock Sam Voight was able to dot down under the posts with just 2 mins of the second period played.
Pompey then scored a 4th try on 51 mins and of course at that stage they hoped that this would keep them clear of the drop but it seems that their relegation rivals did even better.
From here on in it was one way traffic with some breathtaking rugby by forwards and backs alike and to which the visibly wilting visitors had no answer So on 57 mins Mac made a great break with TommyA at hand to finish it off.
Then straight from the restart we saw the ball moved out quickly to Laz, sporting his new dashing?? hair style, who didn't need the after burners to run 50m to score.
With 65 mins on the clock we then saw veteran prop Dan Harvey involved in a move which saw Mac cross for a try.
From the restart it was prop Dan Neal, not to be out done, charge for 20m before feeding TommyA who had the pace to make it from halfway to score his second.
Again from the restart we saw good work by Steve Hastings, Hoff and Ollie take the ball deep into the Pompey half again and when it was turned over their lose defensive kick only found Oyoni on halfway who then proceeded to punish them again as he powered over making the score 76-24 on 70 mins.
With 5 mins to go we had another great display of handling at pace which resulted in Laz crossing for another converted try before another Pompey scrum was driven backwards at speed and Mac picked up the loose ball before feeding TommyA who dotted down for his third try which was converted by Smarty.
This was a fabulous way for the black and ambers to complete their League programme and shows the huge steps they have taken since that very wet September day in Portsmouth. This young side (with a couple of well documented exceptions) have grown immeasurably during this season and have played their own brand of fearless, open exciting rugby which has been a joy to watch and in my humble opinion so much more entertaining than much of the rugby shown on the TV these days.
Now they have a week off before the playoff which looks likely to be v Old Colfeians at Watchetts on April 22nd although this will be confirmed later.
And Finally – well after losing yet another game in the last minute C&W supporters are in meltdown although it does seem difficult to understand why, with the clock at 80 mins and your put in to a scrum which had been going well all game, would you consider wheeling and concede a penalty – could it have been some crafty pulling???