Farnham won 35-11 at home to Chichester in a battle of eighth versus ninth in the league after 100 fans enjoyed a supporters’ lunch at Monkton Lane.
After the Remembrance silence was observed, Chichester kicked off. Unfortunately for them, their chaser knocked the ball on into the hands of Toby Salmon. He burst through the chasing pack and galloped up the far touchline.
After beating a couple of defenders, he was brought down by the cover defence just inside the Chichester 22. The ball was quickly recycled to Ollie Brown, who found Ben Jones. He spotted the narrow Chichester defence and fizzed a pass to Alex Chalker, who finished off the move in the corner. The conversion was successful to give Farnham a dream start.
Chichester were next on the scoreboard as a breakdown infringement allowed them a simple penalty kick to make it 7-3. Chichester then infringed at the restart and Farnham kicked to the corner to give the forwards an opportunity to display their prowess at the rolling maul. The ball was recycled out to the backs who built the phases. Line-threatening carries from Marco Azevedo and Jonny Vincent tied in the Chichester defence, allowing Ben Jones to slide in for Farnham’s second try. With the conversion again successful it was 14-3 inside ten minutes.
After the blistering start by Farnham the game settled down, with both teams kicking for territory. Farnham’s defence held strong, led by the young duo of Archie Cleeve and Marcus Lambert-Parsons. The latter was particularly impressive with regular chop tackles.
A Chichester lineout inside Farnham’s half gave them a good position to attack. This was halted when Toby Salmon ripped the ball out of the tackle and hoofed it downfield only for it to bounce into the Chichester 22, giving Farnham the attacking lineout.
This area of the game worked well all afternoon thanks to the accuracy of hooker Jules Joris. Another penalty put Farnham five metres out and, although the maul stopped short, Marcus Lambert-Parsons powered over in the corner. Another good conversion made it 21-3, but shortly after the restart Chichester were awarded a penalty which they gratefully took to reduce the lead to 21-6.
A series of penalties cost Farnham field position and Chichester used their strong set piece to apply the pressure. This was well resisted by the front row of Azevedo, Joris and Sweeney, who held their own in the scrum. Matt Chapman and Mike Mizzi also had strong performances on the fringes.
Chichester had the ball just outside Farnham’s 22 and, with a penalty advantage, put in an accurate crossfield kick which found their winger charging in to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but Chichester had narrowed the lead to 21-11.
Farnham hit straight back, with several carries bringing them close to the line. The ball was then spun inside for Ben Jones to fizz another accurate pass to find Archie Cleeve who managed to dive over next to the posts for Farnham’s bonus point try, converted to take the score to 28-11.
With only a few minutes left in the first half Farnham cleared their lines from the restart, but the Chichester full-back spilled the ball from the clearance kick. Callum Jones pounced and the ball went wide to Nathan Phillimore who was stopped ten metres out. Farnham were patient in attack again, and took ground and created space with good interplay between backs and forwards. Jones and Vincent spotted space on the narrow side and put the ball through hands to Mike Mizzi who scored out wide. After another good conversion the half-time whistle blew with Farnham leading 35-11.
After the glut of points before the break, the crowd witnessed a scoreless second 40 minutes. Farnham restarted the game looking to build on their positive first half, but their good intentions were undone by some ill-discipline. The penalty count was beginning to rise and the referee eventually lost patience, giving Marco Azevedo ten minutes in the sin bin.
Oscar Henderson joined the fray after several weeks out injured and made an instant impact with his usual breakdown work and strong carries. Farnham defended well with 14 men, with notable big tackles coming from Callum Jones and Archie Cleeve. On many occasions Chichester tried to power over from close range but Farnham kept knocking them back. It was a trademark Oscar Henderson steal that relieved the pressure.
Farnham came back to 15 men on the pitch, with Jemi Akin-Olugbade providing fresh legs for the front row and 18-year-old Finlay Sloan on at full-back for his 1st XV debut.
Farnham’s best chance to score in the half came when Marcus Lambert-Parsons charged down a box kick but unfortunately lost his footing racing to the ball.
Chichester refused to lie down, and after a cynical penalty Dan Sweeney was given ten minutes in the sin bin. Once again though Farnham stood up in defence, and controlled the clock well to see out the game.
Farnham can be proud of an outstanding defensive performance, especially from the younger players.