Guildford took on bottom side Shelford at Broadwater on Saturday and recorded their second successive bonus point win, scoring eight tries in the process.
The home side were led out on Saturday by Alex Jordan, taking the captains armband in acknowledgment of his hundredth appearance for the first team. With a number of injuries including Courtney Raymond and skipper Joe Garner, Rob Mitchell was called back to the second row after a season’s absence and looked like he had never been away, bossing the lineout all afternoon.
Guildford kicked off playing downhill and were quickly into their stride, pushing the visitors back into their 22 with multiple attacking phases before Bill Mairs dived over from a yard out for the first score, converted by Hodgkinson. Shelford hit back quickly when Guildford misplayed a kick into their 22, failed to clear and then gave up an interception with an attempted offload, allowing the visitors to pull back to 7-5. Guildford look stronger and sharper though and so it proved. After again creating good field position in the opposition 22, Pete Hodgkinson bought Tom Jeffery off his wing and he crashed through the defence from a few yards out to score a converted try, 14-5.
The game continued to be open with both sides showing the enthusiastic crowd positive intent and Hodgkinson pulling the strings for the home side at fly half. It was the number 10 who made the next incision with a searing break from a lineout, putting the ball back inside to Jordan on a good support line. Whilst the ball went to ground from Jordan’s offload, Dan Paton, who was a menace with ball in hand all afternoon, gathered and sprinted through for Guildford’s third try with only 20 minutes on the clock.
Guildford’s bonus point try came on the half hour mark, Nick Brown bursting off the back of a lineout, offloading to scrum half Brad Smith in support who held the ball up well then found Hodgkinson who arced through the defence to touch down out wide. This time the conversion went wide, but the scoreboard still showed 26-5. Brown and Smith combined again shortly after, this time with Brown making yards down the blind side before laying the ball back for Smith to gather and score another unconverted try. Shelford scored their second on the stroke of half time after a series of short drives on the Guildford line and the two sides went in at half time at 31-12, with 7 tries in the books.
Shelford opened the scoring in the second half with a well-worked series of phases to put their winger in wide on the left, 31-17. Guildford responded immediately. Receiving quick ball from a lineout Hodgkinson found Jordan on an inside line coming off his wing and saw his skipper sprint through a gap to touch down between the posts from 30 yards out, for a popular score, 38-17. After the restart the visitors again found themselves pinned back in their 22 and when a clearance kick was charged down, Tom Jeffery ran on to the bouncing ball to score his second, 43-17. Fittingly, Jordan, who had worked hard all day, instigated the final act, spinning a turnover wide to Smith who made good ground before passing to Paton who was too good for the cover to round the game out 48-17.
Through a quirk of the schedule, Guildford now face two of the top three sides away from home as the season enters its final quarter with a number of breaks during the Six Nations. Dave Ward’s squad took 10 points from a possible 20 in January and currently lie 7th in the table, but in this league things can change quickly. The team have a well-earned break this weekend, during which they will be cheer on Coach Kyle Sinckler as the lines up for England to take on Ireland in Dublin.