ROCHFORD FINISH HOME CAMPAIGN WITH HARD FOUGHT WIN
By Adam Faherty
Report by Graham Pratt
Rochford brought their home and penultimate league campaign to a successful conclusion with a hard-fought victory over a good Haberdashers outfit in front of a large crowd at Magnolia Road.
For the most part it was a rather dull, stop, start contest to match the gloom of the overcast and damp weather but intriguing all the same. In some ways this game was similar to last week’s where the boys in black had to dig deep to come back from behind to win with the obligatory bonus point.
The match started well with an early try from stand off Cameron Greenhall who used his pace to run in at the corner.
This was short lived however as Haberdashers did not travel all the way over from North West London to be cannon fodder for their high-flying opponents and they took the game to Rochford.
A try quickly followed which was duly converted and soon after that they ran in for another converted try. The old boys had a big and aggressive set of forwards who put themselves about in the loose and good, fast backs which caused the Rochford side problems.
The home side found it hard to get any rhythm going and began to make handling errors at crucial times when in promising attacking positions.
The visitors scored a further converted try and midway through the first half Rochford were looking at a 21 – 5 deficit.
The big Rochford crowd of supporters had gone fairly quiet at this stage especially when the team were reduced to fourteen men when second row Allen Barker was yellow carded.
This seemed to be the wake up call they needed as they regrouped, went back to basics through their strong and experienced pack. Two tries came from this power base as they forced Old Haberdashers to defend desperately and first flanker Stuart Whatling drove over for a try and then shortly after lively prop Craig Strachan found a way through to score. Both tries were converted by Greenhall and Rochford went into the break only 19 – 21 behind.
The home team came out for the second half with new found vigour and back at full strength attacked the old boy’s line with purpose. Some excellent ball play saw centre Sonny Gay speed through to score the fourth and bonus point try to put his side back into the lead.
This Rochford side do not know how to lose and now they were in front their strength, experience and extra fitness told, and it was only fitting that hooker adam ferrier crashed over for a try as he has been a typical example of this Rochford forward power together with others that has been the anchor of the team’s success. Greenhall converted to take the score line to 31 – 21 to the home side. The game became rather static with a number of stoppages and set scrums followed which frustrated both teams and the supporters alike.
As the game progressed into the latter stages the visitors began to tire after putting in so much effort and Rochford threw the ball about more.
Winger Mark Ikhifa at last had a chance to show off some of his running skills to good effect as he ran in for Rochford’s sixth try.
However, the persistent opposition never gave up the fight and were rewarded with an opportunist try late in the game to give them a try bonus point as a small consolation for all their efforts. In fact, they are the club that have put the most points on us this season and due credit to them.
Rochford tightened up to see out this edgy and hard-fought contest and then to take the plaudits of their loyal and vocal supporters who have been a big part of this rollercoaster season.
Many good individual performances from players especially such as Jack Doherty who came in at scrum half and did so well and Tom Corbet making his return to the team after a trying time.
Primarily this was another of those massive team performances where character, experience and sheer determination is needed to see off good opposition.
Rochford, for the most part, this season have not needed to extend themselves too much but there have been those games, especially since Christmas, where they have had to dig deep and have not been found wanting and will put them in good stead for the challenges of next season.
Last league game next week away at Amersham and the boys will want to finish this extraordinary season off in style.