Merton into the quarter-finals of the Surrey Bowl at the expense of Raynes Park

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Merton are through to the quarter-finals of the Surrey Bowl after an emphatic 22-5 first round win over Raynes Park.

Jason Newell, Liam Hayhoe, Will Rist and Neil Quinn got the tries, while Rist also added a conversion, to set up a trip to Surrey Division Four rivals Woking.

With the match having been postponed due to snow, the Morden Rec hosts found themselves without a number of regulars, including Bolivian international and skipper, Edgar Barros, which prompted them to promote a number of their second XV into the squad. 

They would all play key roles in the victory, but it was youngster, Freddy Thumwood, at prop who caught the eye, proving to be a formidable force in the set pieces and having a number of storming carries in the loose.

The game could not have started any better for Merton, as a spilled ball from the kick-off saw them work the ball right from the resulting scrummage.

James Newbury and Will Rist combined to put Newell in the clear, and the Ulsterman needing no second invitation to charge over close to the corner flag. 

Having started in such great fashion, the hosts continued to dominate proceedings, but found themselves struggling with the conditions and were unable to increase their advantage. 

It was against the run of play that Park got back on terms, working the ball to the right and making the most of an overlap to tie up the scores. 

The next period of the match was fairly even, but just before half-time, home winger Hayhoe, picked out a pass and ran half the length of the field to give his side the lead again, with Rist adding the conversion.

There were at times in the second-half that the game got very scrappy, as both teams struggled with the heavy pitch, which was making ball handling and retention a problem. 

As the match moved into the final 10 minutes, it was still evenly balanced, although Merton were now having a larger percentage of possession, but could not transmit it into points. 

It was from a driving maul that the hosts gave themselves a bit of breathing space, leading try scorer and skipper for the day, Quinn, breaking off the back and smashing his way through to the line to score a deserved try. 

With the game now near enough in the bag, Merton were determined to end with a flourish and, after Adam Sitch had gone close, Rist took matters into his own hands by picking up a pass from Newell and outflanking the defence to seal the win with a great individual effort.

This Saturday, Merton return to League action with a home game against Woking. 

Merton are always looking for new players, of all standards, to come down and join them. For more information, call Jack on 07970 166958 or contact him via jointhepride@mertonrugby.org

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