Cranleigh mark long-awaited return with win over Met Police
Saturday saw the return of competitive contact rugby down at Cranleigh RFC for the first time since February 2020, with a fixture against Met Police RFC.
The Cranes started the day with 25 players available for the fixture and that number slowly dropped to 19. But, this still meant that Cranleigh were able to play the agreed format of 15-a-side for the first time this season.
From the early exchanges in the first quarter, Cranleigh dominated possession and the speed of ball from the ruck was a real problem for the Met Police
A loose kick from the Met Police full back gifted the ball to Charlie Treasure in the back field, who ran the ball back and beat five defenders before racing in to dot down under the posts for the game’s opening score.
The momentum didn’t stop after that. Dominant carries from Theo Gloyens, Matt Dandy and Jake Tetley allowed the Cranes to retain possession and continue to move the ball around quickly.
Max Crushiel, who provided energy and tempo from scrum half, passed it to Phil Moore who carried into contact and gave a perfectly timed offload to Nick Hendy who powered over the line from close range.
Ill-discipline began creeping in, which gifted possession to Met Police, who were able to go through the phases themselves and applied pressure in the Cranleigh half.
The Cranes defence held firm against the Met's aggressive carries for most of the second quarter, but the visitors eventually scored in the corner from a well worked play from just inside the 22.
Frustration began creeping in to Cranleigh's play and the penalty count started to go against the hosts as a result.
Met Police continued to pile pressure in attack with their abrasive carries through the middle, and good offloading allowed them to gain valuable metres in attack.
From the beginning of the third quarter, the tempo was immediately raised. Another loose kick into the back field allowed Treasure another opportunity to run the ball back.
In almost a carbon copy of his previous try, he sprinted past five would-be tacklers to dot down under the posts again.
The momentum began swinging back in the Cranes' favour, with every attack causing the Met some real problems in defence.
After some phases of moving the ball, the space opened up in the middle for Greg Cushing to break through and dot down under the posts.
Despite more sustained pressure from the Met, the hosts finished the third quarter four tries to one up thanks to some superb last-ditch defending.
In the final quarter, both teams gave everything in a very entertaining encounter. Met Police started to move the ball around with conviction, exhausting the wider channels.
They were eventually rewarded for their intelligent play when their full back broke through and drew the last defender to pass to the scrum half who finished well underneath the posts for a great try.
In one of the final plays of the quarter, after some sustained attacks from Cranleigh, a penalty was awarded five-metres out from the try line which was taken quickly by Crushiel who passed to Dandy who crashed over to make the final score 42-21.
The Cranes' man of the match was the very impressive Matt Dandy who returned from university. He led the line out brilliantly and made important tackles to raise the energy levels of the group.
Cranleigh's final match of the season is against Weybridge Vandals on Friday, May 21 under the lights at Wildwood Lane.