Promotion hopes dashed with last kick of the game
By Roger Berry
Promotion hopes dashed with last kick of the game
If any of the Camberley Rugby Committee, Chairman Paddy, DoR Risey plus of course Alun and Ash had been offered 3rd place at the beginning of the season I am confident that each of them would have grasped it with both hands. In the event this squad had quickly adapted to the physicality and pace of this league and had put themselves into pole position to be in the promotion shake up at the end of the season.
In fact the boys, many of whom were there at the beginning of this journey from Surrey 1, were all, to a man, completely devastated that they had let a lead of 24-12 vanish in the time added on for stoppages conceding two break away tries with the result that it is now Brighton who will proceed to the playoff game in 2 weeks.
In what was always going to be a tough game against Brighton who, for long periods of the season, had lead the League, we saw, in the end, their experience and desire to win proving just too much for the Cam squad who looked exhausted as they left the park after a performance sometimes lacking in the accuracy and control they had demonstrated against some of the other leading teams but not lacking in endeavour.
Cam, playing away from the club house with a coolish breeze blowing across the park were soon on the attack and following a couple of penalties they were camped in the red zone and with only 6 mins on the clock a good 5m scrum saw Mac charge over and with Smarty adding the extras with an excellent kick the black and ambers were on their way.
Cam then again put some phases together direct from the restart but an optimistic miss pass was well read by the visitors who crossed to level the scores after 10 mins.
We then had a period where both sides set about stress testing each other's defensive systems and the visitors broke first when we saw Cam showing loads of patience as they moved the ball left and right in the visitors 22 until Dyl raced through to score a converted try after 20 mins.
The visitors, however were not prepared to concede and were soon turning the scoreboard when, following a good period of D by the black and ambers where the visitors were not able to make progress with their round the corner tactics, they threw the ball wide and crossed in the corner for an unconverted try.
The remainder of the half saw both sides again trying hard to break the deadlock and following great drives by Harrison, Hoff and Ozzie Greg we saw Hughsey, playing in the centre covering for the injuries to Joey and Ash last week, almost over but again their patience was rewarded when we saw Dyl cross for his second of the afternoon with just a couple of mins to go to half time.
The second half again saw both sides trying to gain the initiative and when Smarty landed another difficult kick to extend the lead to 12 points with just 5 mins of the second period played the home supporters began to breathe more easily although the visitors were still dangerous and spent some time in the Cam 22 until a great break out by Mac from a scrum brought play back to halfway.
At this stage we saw that the Cam penalty count was mounting alarmingly as they strived for the bonus point try as they believed that this gave them a chance of finishing first and this desire to continue to move the ball wide at every opportunity gave the visitors chances which should probably not have existed if the black and ambers had known that 7Oaks had achieved their 5 points so that a win and second place was all that they needed.
Another great defensive break by Mac saw play again move to the visitors red zone but Brighton, not for the first time were able to mess up the 5m lineout catch and drive.
Still Cam's desperate efforts for that 4 th try was providing opportunities for the visitors and we saw you winger Callum put in 4 potentially try saving tackles in the space of a couple of mins.
So we reach time added on with Brighton camped in the Cam 22 and when the black and ambers were reduced to 14 things became more difficult and despite yet another great charge out of his half by Mac a couple of soft penalties saw the visitors break through and score bringing the score t0 24-19.
Well into time added on the Cam restart was not managed well by the home side and a couple of fly hacks later we saw Brighton cross for their bonus point try and with the last kick of the game adding the extras and earning their playoff game against Colchester.
So in the end a slightly downbeat note to end what has, overall been a magnificent season with Cam top scorers in the league by almost 100 points and with the second best defensive record in the league – something I'm sure the squad and coaches are truly proud of and which sets a target for their 2019/20 campaign.
Today missing both centres and of course the other two centres Josh and Jos who we lost at the turn of the year, we saw some of the attacking edge blunted but it also seemed like the major games that they had played over recent weeks had eventually taken their toll on the home side.
The back three of TommyA, Oyoni and Callum acquitted themselves well both in attack and defence and the new centre partnership of Lils and Hughsey stood up well to the Brighton attacks but it was clear that this was their first time playing together.
Smarty and Tom at 10 and 9 had good games but perhaps they should have tried to occasionally slow the pace of what was for long periods a frenetic game.
The forwards basically have been the rock of the side all season and although #s 9-15 have amassed the points 1-8 have generally been the providers and their ability as a pack has grown immensely since their first game at Brighton in September. Ozzie Greg, Dyl and Nick in the front row have been outstanding while Hoff and Voighty (although Sam has been loitering at #6 for the last few games) plus Ben Harrison have been the 'go to' players in the side, all with excellent lineout skills, aggressive in defence and with great skills with ball in hand.
The backrow for this game was Voighty, Mac and GregW – with usual occupant Hughsey playing in the centre and The Warrior having missed the last part of the season with knee issues. Again this didn't help the squad overmuch as much of the it's 'play book' relies heavily on these three positions to play major roles in offence and defence and provide good 'go forward ball' to set up the speedsters.
On a final note I believe that the overall performances this season have been outstanding, a real credit to a great group of players and also to the coaching team of Risey, Ash, Al and Alex who between them have encouraged and developed this squad so much since those days playing in the depths of Surrey.
As we are almost at the end of things just a quick mention for physio Sophie who has diligently looked after the squad for 4 years and has decided to move on – she has been a fantastic and vital member of the squad (I for one am amazed at how patient she is with particularly on cold wet Thursday nights when everyone seems to have tweaked something so that they can stay in the dry!!) so All the Best Sophie!!
Cam 2s completed their 100% league record with a 73-7 win over Brighton 2s a tad worrying for the seasiders as I would have thought that if they do gain promotion in 2 weeks they will require even more SiD within the squad as we know what our attrition rate has been this season. Anyway well done to the 2s and coach Tom who have had a fantastic season.
The 3s lost their league playoff game against Guildford so will have a couple of week off before the Cup Final on May 4th.
And Finally – well it has been another good week for the C&Ws with their excellent win away at Franklins Gardens on Sunday and today recovering from a 17 point deficit to beat B*rf 27- 23 and with The Queens also losing we are beginning to look comfortable in third place with 3 games to go.