MATCH REPORT: CROYDON VS REIGATE 12th Jan
Croydon’s matchup against Reigate fell on the weekend of the VP lunch, with vets turning up in droves, representing the whole arc of the club’s 60 year history, to reminisce about the glory days. After a starter of Croydon’s finest curry, the main course was to be served up by the current 1st XV who took to the field against Reigate.
After the kick off, the Poppies quickly set up camp in the opposition 22. Bond’s kicking was as clinical as Smutley and Defrates in the lineout, giving Croydon a strong platform to build on. Shrimpton and Killcoyne marshalled an unbreakable defensive line while sustained offensive pressure coordinated by W. Curtis and Henderson resulted in Humphrey barrelling over in the corner to break the deadlock. Conversion missed, Croydon led by 5.
With the offer of a warm clubhouse, plenty of ale and some vintage photographs proving a tempting alternative, some supporters had difficulty seeing the first half unfold. Unfortunately for those who did make it to the pitch, the referee was having similar difficulties. Despite it being national “kiss a ginger” day, the referee showed no love to our scrum half and some interesting calls cost Croydon several opportunities. Thankfully, Croydon’s front row were causing nightmares for the opposition pack. Matthews and Griffiths broke the spirits of the Reigate scrum before super-sub Benson made an immediate impact, effortlessly turning over a Reigate penalty run and shipping the ball to Bond to score in the corner and double his tally of missed conversions for the game.
The success enjoyed by the forwards was shared by the backs, with Gissing, S. Curtis, and Drummey putting the gas on their opposite numbers at will. The Poppies kept giving up penalties but Reigate couldn’t capitalise and with the half winding down, Drummey stumbled round the defence and over the molehills to touch down nearer the post, allowing Bond to finally make a conversion and regain some face. Half time: Croydon 17 – Reigate 0.
Croydon pressed on in the second half. Dammers and Cousins refreshed the pack and Reigate buckled under the pressure. Lyell did his best impression of a back, dancing up to the line and stretching over for a bonus point try before snatching up an interception to supply captain Bond with a chance to add to both his own try tally and missed conversion count for the day.
Not finished with the five tries, and cheered by a massive showing of vets, the 2019 “Wanderers” pushed forward. Just inside the opposition 22, Humphrey charged towards the line. Reigate threw everything they had at the Yorkshireman - missed tackles, high tackles and slide tackles - but nothing could break the flanker’s stride and a sixth try was awarded in the corner (much to the disappointment of Bond’s boot).
The final quarter of the match slowed and while Yorkie returned for a late cameo in search of his hat-trick, Croydon’s focus became maintaining a clean sheet against a Reigate team who simply refused to quit. However, in the final minutes, Cousins switched his signature energetic “Duracell battery” display, for an unfortunate display of “assault and battery” in front of the ref. Reigate got a penalty and took full advantage, with a try from a cross field kick to salvage some pride from the encounter and finish the match 34 – 7.
Final Score: Croydon 37 – Reigate 7
Tries: Humphrey (2), Bond (2), Drummey, Lyell
Conversions: Bond (2)
MoM: Humphrey (Forwards), W. Curtis (Backs)
Honourable mentions must go to the vets who turned out in force to support the team. As well as keeping tight lipped and refraining from giving us too much stick for the performance, the returners also managed to raise a valuable contribution toward the much needed shower refurbishment. Being a relative newcomer to the club, it was humbling to see the rich history of the Wanderers packing out the clubhouse and great to share a drink with some of the founding members of ’56 and everybody in between who built the club into what it is today.