After a very physical game in blustery conditions, Reigate 2XV came up winners in a tough contest at Poulter Park. In what was to become a hugely physical encounter, Mitcham spent most of the first five minutes camped in their own 22’, fending off numerous crash balls from a big set of Reigate forwards. Something which became something of a recurrence.
By the ten-minute mark, it was clear that Reigate had the advantage in the line outs, with the M&C 2XV lacking zip and accuracy in the line, losing two against the head, although the windy conditions certainly played their part.
Despite being fairly a cagey start, Reigate continued to enjoy much of the possession in their forwards, with the ball barely reaching their backs in the first half. Eventually the continued pressure and possession meant Mitcham were forced to give away several penalties close to their try line, which Reigate used to kick for three points.
The first quarter finished with Mitcham’s first real sustained phase of play, making good ground from forwards like Second Row Jake Odell and Props Dan Gillesbie and Harry Richardson as well as strong runs from backs Sheridan Petgrave, Tim Taylor and Keith Parker. First Quarter; 0-3 to Reigate.
As the second quarter began, Mitcham were back on the defensive, with Reigate crash balls coming thick and fast. A second penalty for not rolling away came in the 25th minute, allowing Reigate to get their second Penalty kick of the game (0-6).
Following the restart, Mitcham began to enjoy some possession of their own, more strong crash runs from Odell, No 8 Alex Fackerell and Flanker Felipe Castrillon linking up well. Mitcham nearly scored shortly after with Odell crashing over, only for it be held up. Sensing space at a free kick, Scrum Half Martyn Smith found Second Row Kev Penter, who despite being hit by four or five Reigate players, still found the try line. Mitcham were back in it. Unfortunately, Full Back Matty Allen’s conversion didn’t quite have the legs, but still put Reigate only a point ahead at 5-6.
Despite a very scrappy first half, Mitcham did end with a flourish. A quickly taken penalty from Odell gave the Mitcham backs space on the left wing. A crash ball and cheeky offload from Penter and Taylor gave Petgrave, who looked threatening whenever had the ball, space to waltz in, skipping past several defenders and grounding the ball near the posts. With the wind giving Allen difficulties in keeping the ball steady, the Full Back thought quickly, opting for a clever drop goal, and putting Mitcham 12-6 up at the break.
The second half continued in a similar vein for the first 5-10 minutes, with neither side able to capitalise on possession with handling errors costing both sides. With the weather continuing to play havoc at the lineout, Reigate were awarded with a free kick 15 meters from Mitcham's try line and were able to break through with a simple crash ball; the big ball carrier being able to shrug off two challenges and steamrolled his way through to Reigate’s first try of the match. 12-11.
This sustained pressure from Reigate continued for the majority of the remainder of the game, with Mitcham struggling to get out their own half. Using the very strong wind, Reigate were able to keep Mitcham penned in their own 22’, with the Mitcham backs unable to clear their lines. Mitcham’s defence however stood solid for much of the remainder of the game, with the 2XV able to block most of the crash balls, and also deal with the Reigate backs, who despite clearly possessing speed, were rarely used. Attack after attack came at the Mitcham line, with all forwards putting their bodies on the line.
Reigate did have the chance to take the lead with a penalty, but their 10, who despite having a strong game with his boot, was unable to capitalise. 15 mins to go, Mitcham were still hanging on to a slim lead. Mitcham's lead retension however was not helped by an injury to centre Parker, who’d had a strong game defensively, who was forced to end his game early.
Eventually the continued pressure and the numerous handling errors became too much for Mitcham and Reigate were able sense a gap in the far corner, scoring their second try with only 7 minutes left on the clock. 12-16 to Reigate with 10 minutes to go.
Despite needing a try to claw back the lead, Mitcham were forced back on the defensive again, but some immense hits from the likes of Penter and Smith prevented any further points being conceded. A frustrating day at the office, but the work rate from the lads was immense. Lots to work on at Tuesday.
This coming Saturday, Mitcham's 1s, 2s, and the Women's side take on Bec Old Boys at home, with the Women's match kicking off at 11:30am and the Men's at 15:00 - See you there!
Tries: K. Penter, S. Petgrave
Cons: M. Allen
MOTM: K. Penter