Mitcham go down fighting

Despite playing with 14 men, Mitcham went down to a 27-18 defeat against Old Williamsonians in Saturday’s RFU Vase preliminary round tie, writes Chris Read.

In hot conditions and on a dry pitch, Mitcham took the lead after 10 minutes with a well-taken try down the blind side, finished by Adriaan Van Rensburg after a typically strong Mitcham scrummage inside the opposition 22.

They edged further ahead with a penalty by captain Simon Barnard before Old Williamsonians began to use their strong runners to make inroads up the middle leading to a try out wide.

Yet they failed to make the extra man count with any regularity and Mitcham covered most attacks with strong tackling and excellent scramble defence.

In the end only a try in the last minute of the half meant there was any distance between the two teams with the scores 12-8 at half time.

However it was to prove crucial as Old Williamsonians carried the momentum on and started the second half with real intent scoring two tries quickly to move ahead and look to take the game out of Mitcham's reach.

Yet in a show of team spirit that bodes well for the rest of the season Mitcham refused to lie down.

In spite of the heat and with several players carrying injuries Mitcham built on their excellent scrummage and pushed the Kent side back into their own 22 with the quick passing and hard running of Peter Zsitvai and Carl Donaldson.

Another penalty by Barnard raised Mitcham heads before Neville Moriarty sezied a trademark intercept try to give the visitors hope of an unlikely victory.

It was not to be however as Old Williamsonians closed out the game, giving themselves breathing space with a final penalty and Mitcham were left wondering what could have been if all their squad had been available.

Excellent performances in the Mitcham pack from Jezz Shallow and Mark Whittall but Andy Ribbans was man of the match playing out of position at hooker but with an never ending workrate.

Next week Mitcham travel to Battersea Ironsides for a friendly.

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