OLD Walcountians took a further step to securing Surrey One status for next season when they beat fellow strugglers Cranleigh convincingly at Clock House last Saturday.
The Old Boys were missing three key players - half-backs Tom and Will Diamond and flanker Joe Henderson - but were encouraged by a quick return from injury by flanker Remy Claustres. And the absences were barely noticeable as an aggressive and committed Walcountians pack got stuck into their opponents straight from kick-off.
Inspired by dynamic performances from lock Dom Bell and the back row of Claustres, Simon Fowler and Gerry Connor, the pack relentlessly attacked the gain line through combative rucking and driving, and commanded possession throughout the first half.
It took the Old Boys just one minute to open the score when Claustres broke from a ruck on the Cranleigh line and touched down for a try, converted by fly-half Fred South.
Stubborn defensive resistance by Cranleigh frustrated Walcountians for much of the first half and it took two penalties from South in the 11th and 29th minutes to carry on building a lead.
But, in the five minutes leading up to the break, Walcountians' relentless pressure paid off as they finally broke down the visitors' resistance with two tries.
The first, in the 35th minute, came when hooker Matt Houghton drove over from a maul on the Cranleigh line.
The second try, as half-time approached, came from a piece of pure magic from South who broke from his own half, evaded the entire Cranleigh backline with a mazy run, and put away winger Tom Naylor to touch down. South then converted the try.
Cranleigh began to fight back in the second half and, five minutes in, the game exploded into a brawl between the two sides after Walcountians reacted angrily to a high tackle on South. Claustres and the Cranleigh No 8 were both sin-binned for ten minutes.
Walcountians maintained their efforts despite determined resistance and extended their lead when Connor got his hand to the ball as the Walcountians pack rolled a maul over Cranleigh's line.
This gave the Old Boys a valuable bonus point.
Walcountians were reduced to 14 players for the last five minutes when a further altercation resulted in prop Pete Cowlin being sin-binned. Cranleigh took advantage to score a consolation try after a three-quarter move left the Walcountians' defence short-handed.
Walcountians now have a seven-point advantage over Cranleigh, which has increased their chances of avoiding the drop at the end of the season.