Warlingham edged out by Bulls
Warlingham were edged out 32-31 in their mid-table clash at Aylesford Bulls on Saturday.
With the return of flanker Tom Street Warlingham had a strong set of forwards and, in the early stages, made mince meat of the Aylesford pack, looking to have the set pieces sewn up.
However, when Warlingham found themselves in a bit of a stew near their own line a wayward offside gave the Bulls an early penalty attempt which they converted. Warlingham centre Asa Wright had two pops at goal himself but failed with both attempts.
Finnish international Mikael Ahola made good ground for Warlingham, closely supported by winger Jon Osborne, but, with the midfield tussle fairly even it looked as if the match would be low scoring.
Eventually Bulls found a gap in the Warlingham defence and dotted down under the posts for the first converted try.
Play generally descended into a penalty-riddled affair but the Warlingham pack, with flanker Zack King prominent, applied pressure on the Bulls line until the referee awarded them a penalty try for persistent, try-preventing activity.
At the half time whistle Warlingham, despite being three points adrift, looked as if they could stake their name on the win.
This was not to be as Bulls made astute substitutions and a deft chip ahead by their fly half bounced perfectly to their winger who dashed in for their second try. Bulls had their tails up and locked horns with the visitors forwards but when their backs looked certain to score centre Mark Kozminski brought off a try saving tackle from behind.
When lock Luke Delderfield was yellow-carded Bulls kicked the points and put clear water between the two sides. Warlingham then raised their game, and with hooker James Delderfield snorting forward in charge he slipped the ball to Ahola who scored his first try for his new club. Kozminski converted.
After a simple try scored by Aylesford, Kozminski slotted a penalty, but Warlingham fell for the chip ahead again and Bulls claimed their fourth, bonus point try and the match looked lost to the visitors.
A late rally ensued and a quick tap penalty on the Bulls try line saw Kozminksi score a try which he converted.
It became a race against the clock but Warlingham were now rampant and Ahola crashed over for Warlingham's bonus point try which Kozminski calmly converted leaving Warlingham just one point adrift.
Within a minute of the final whistle Warlingham were awarded a penalty just inside the Bulls half and, with nigh on fifty metres to cover, they opted for the kick. Both teams and sets of supporters held their breath as Kozminski swung his boot. To the huge delight of the home side, and the chagrin of the visitors, it fell just short and Bulls claimed the five point win.
Warlingham departed with just the two bonus points.
After the game, chairman Peter Wrightson said: "We were well off the pace today. After some recent spirited matches we should have done much better. The lads are bitterly disappointed to give away soft scores and not to get the win - but Aylesford took their chances well."
Next week Warlingham host Heathfield and Waldren, when they also stage their annual Golden Oldies Lunch where 160 former players gather to relive their own golden playing memories and support their successors.