Guildford Rugby Club

Seven from seven for Guildford and 100 not out for Matt Poole

Guildford 24 – 17 Chichester

Team: 1 Matt Poole, 2 Jacob Jones, 3 Alex Hankins (c), 4 Alex Burrill, 5 Flynn Crean, 6 Ed Pasfield, 7 Brett Kingsbury, 8 Ollie Millward, 9 Ieuan Jones, 10 Ricky Hopcroft, 11 Louis Bounds, 12 Oli Fielder, 13, Zac Rodber, 14 Alex Jordan, 15 Rob Voller

Replacements: 16 Jon Karimian, 17 Luke Brookes, 18 Harry Phillips

After a 17 – 24 victory at Farnham last week Guildford continued their winning ways in 2024 with a 24-17 win against Chichester in their final home game of the season.  The game was preceded by a well-attended pre-match lunch to acknowledge all the effort and hard work put into making the club what it is today by a significant army of volunteers, thanks to you all!

Guildford lost the previous encounter with Chichester 27 -14, back in December which was notable for being the game where Rob Voller picked up an injury that has kept him out of the team for a few months, so it was good to see him back on the pitch at Broadwater helping the team make amends.

The side showed several changes due to injury and unavailability.  An injury to Joe Garner saw Ollie Millward move to No 8 and Ed Pasfield moving to blindside flanker.  Congratulations to Kiwi Ricky Hopcroft who made his debut at fly half.  This was the last game for our Kiwi visitors who left early Sunday morning to head up to Scotland prior to their return down under.  Thanks for all your efforts both on and off the field, you will all be missed and are welcome back any time.  Safe travels.

Amongst all the other goings on it should not be forgotten that Matt Poole was playing his 100th game for Guildford 1st XV which is a significant milestone.  Matt has been a key part of the team over the last few seasons, and it was good to see him back on the pitch after a long layoff due to injury. Congratulations Matt!

The visitors kicked off playing towards the Broadwater School end in their normal blue kit.  Guildford were in their change white strip.  The kick off didn’t go 10m and Guildford opted for the scrum on halfway.  If you were to write a script for how you wanted your first scrum to go on your 100th cap as a front row then the way Guildford scrummaged in that first scrum, and winning a penalty would come close.

Guildford started the game strongly and were creating quick ball for the backs to use.  The scrum was dominant and the lineout functioning well, but they just couldn’t unlock the resolute Chichester defence and get a score.  Guildford’s attack wasn’t creating space in the middle of the field, but there were opportunities to gain ground around the outside, however the scramble defence was good enough to keep Guildford out.  Several times passes went to ground as the backs were too flat.  A couple of times they managed to get the ball over the line, just couldn’t get it to ground.

It was if the game was waiting for someone to step up and do something to break the deadlock.  On 25 minutes, centurion Matt Poole decided that he was that man.  A short pass from Ieuan Jones 7m from the line, after some good work by the Guildford pack, saw Poolie crash over for the first try just to the left of the posts to break the deadlock.  Ieuan’s conversion was good, and the score was Guildford 7 – 0 Chichester

The score seemed to galvanise Chichester who started to get back into the game as Guildford had most of the possession in the first quarter.  After several good drives Chichester were rewarded with a try five or so minutes later from a well worked driving maul from a 5m lineout.  The conversion was missed, the score moved to Guildford 7 – 5 Chichester.

Guildford put the pressure on the visitors after the restart and after a couple of scrums on the Chichester 5m line Ieuan managed to fend off his opposite number and crash over for the second try, which he subsequently converted, the score moves to Guildford 14 – 5 Chichester.

Shortly after this, the referee, who had controlled proceedings with a good degree of empathy and allowed things to flow during the first 40 minutes, decided that it was half time.

HT Guildford 14-5 Chichester

Guildford kicked off the second half playing up the hill.  The second half picked up where the first left off, Guildford not managing to make major inroads, Chichester trying to get back into the game through their lively backs, but struggling at the scrum and lineout, so not getting the ball they would like.

Guildford continued to generate some quick ball and go forward but were still not able to break through and improve the score.  Chichester were getting caught out with the quick ball and conceded several penalties – the referee eventually decided he had had enough and sent a Chichester prop to the bin for 10 minutes.  This caused a bit of discussion as the visitors were unable to bring on a replacement due to an earlier injury and so went down to 13 men and uncontested scrums.  This however, this was not to Guildford’s advantage as they were enjoying some dominance in the scrum.

From the scrum Oli Fielder ran hard and strong and crashed over for what everyone thought was a try, but the referee said was held up.  The resulting dropout from under the posts was run back by Guildford who moved the 13 defenders around, creating space for Brett Kingsbury to go over out wide for the third try. The conversion was missed, the score Guildford 19 – 5 Chichester.

Some good handling movement then got the ball to Alex Jordan on the left wing who raced around the outside of his opposite number and up the hill to score an unconverted try to give Guildford the bonus point and the score moved to Guildford 24 – 4 Chichester

And so, we move into that part of the game, usually 10-15 minutes before the final whistle, where Guildford think that they have done enough to win the game and the opposition will just play along and let the game play out.  However, Chichester were having none of this and from a great break by the outside centre, who was Chichester’s player of the match, created the space for the 15 coming in at pace to score under the posts.  The conversion was good, and the score was Guildford 24 – 12 Chichester.

Shortly after, a good move by the Chichester backs split the Guildford defence and opened a gap for the left winger.  The scramble defence brought him down just short of the tryline, but in doing so conceded a penalty for not releasing in the tackle.  This was quickly taken, and Chichester dived over for another unconverted try taking the score to Guildford 24 – 17 Chichester.

Luckily for Guildford there was not long left to the final whistle and there was a lot of relief from the crowd when the referee blew for full time.

FT Guildford 24 – 17 Chichester

Although it was a 5 point win for Guildford which, because of other results on the day, saw them consolidate 4th place it was still very scrappy.  The players will be frustrated that there were at least three occasions they crossed the line but couldn’t ground the ball.

There is a week off next week before the final game of the season away at Tottonians on 6th April.  The game has the added interest that the winner will finish third.  This would be a significant achievement for Guildford after the slow start to the season. If you are able to attend, it has the makings of a great game.

Mike Burden

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