Bromley RFC VS Cranbrook
After last week’s walkover win over Charlton Park who, for whatever reason(s) could not field a team and it would be unfair of us to speculate as to why, Bromley played host to Cranbrook and although missing quite a number of the squad they still managed to put out a strong team and it was good to see Laws returning to the bench and Edmunds also being given an opportunity also from the bench. Cranbrook have had a difficult start to the season and on paper travelling to face Bromley was going to be a severe test for them. Not that you would have guessed that from watching the first half which, apart from a few minutes, they dominated. As has been customary this season so far Bromley made a slow start and seemed unable to retain the ball for any length of time which encouraged Cranbrook to go on the offensive which they did with gusto. Bromley had to defend and they coughed up the inevitable penalties and Cranbrook were ahead 0-6 after thirteen minutes. Offences were offside and a high tackle. Yet again the home side were behind early on and chasing the game. Slowly they began to get a foothold and on nineteen minutes from a well won lineout ball fly half Griffiths made a great break, carried on by Scott and Haisell and back to Scott who barged his way over. Terrific conversion by Griffiths and Bromley edged ahead 7-6.
However, they did not push on and it was Cranbrook who upped the intensity and Bromley were scrambling in defence. Twenty seven minutes on the clock and the away crashed through the middle of the park and with fast recycling, they created the overlap and scored wide right to go 7-11 ahead. Two minutes later the home team made an emphatic response. Cranbrook kicked the ball into the Bromley half and this was picked up by Hawkins running at pace and he exploded past a couple of the opposition and exchanged a number of passes with Scott who released Pillow on the wing and he intelligently drew the cover and slipped a lovely pass to Scott who cantered in for the try again superbly converted by Griffiths. This was a wonderful try to put Bromley 14-11 to the good and surely now they would kick on. No, quite the reverse, as Cranbrook dominated the last ten minutes or so of the half and rattled up seventeen points with two converted tries and a penalty without reply leaving the Bromley players, coaches and spectators a bit stunned. Cranbrook were overjoyed and there was much whooping and hollering as they envisaged a win on the road. 14-28 Cranbrook.
The black and ambers had a lot to consider at half time as apart from a couple of great attacking moves they were misfiring in too many aspects of the game. Words were said and they recalibrated and were much more of a handful in the second half. Cranbrook were probably aware that Bromley were going to come back hard as they had no other option. Most of the play was in Cranbrook’s half and inevitably they began to concede penalties which gave Bromley field position and with their lineout and scrummaging much improved they now had a steady stream of possession and on fifty one minutes George Scott sniped over for his hat trick of tries and with the conversion Bromley were only seven points behind with plenty of time to go. Four minutes later they conjured up another brilliant move only to see the scoring pass hit the deck – knock on – great shame. The game was now well and truly on with Cranbrook defending desperately leading to a team warning over the concession of penalties. Try as they might Bromley could not get over the whitewash and their cause was not helped when Smith was yellow carded for a high tackle on sixty four minutes. From the sidelines, this seemed a bit harsh as it was across the chest if anything. Minutes before a Bromley player had been hit across the head in open play and nothing was given after the Cranbrook team warning several other penalties were issued against them but no yellow card. This led to a certain amount of frustration both on and off the field and intensity levels went up.
No criticism of the referee as he can only give what he sees and he generally had a fine game. With ten minutes to go, Bromley were on all out attack and Cranbrook had their hard hats on, trenches dug and hurling themselves into tackles. Eight minutes left and Bromley were awarded another penalty which Griffiths dispatched to the corner. This was won cleanly at the lineout and the forwards charged towards the line and another penalty was given. Cranbrook lost concentration and tap and go Scott is over but this time the conversion slides agonisingly wide. 26-28. Within two minutes Bromley had surged down the park again with Hawkins breaking through leading to a Bromley scrum and although Scott was hassled and harried by his opposite number he managed to get the ball away and this was brilliantly picked up by Johnny Griffiths and after a flurry of passes he was in under the posts. He converted his own try and now Bromley were ahead with the bonus point and had only a few minutes of play to survive. Cranbrook had no option but to go on all out attack which they did but were met by a brick wall of a defence and when Ansell clamped his arms over the ball in the jackle position Bromley had the penalty. This was kicked off the pitch and the whistle went and the home side had secured victory and five points. Time 33-28 Bromley.
To say the least, this was a very hard earned victory and Bromley had to dig very deep to get the result. All credit to Cranbrook who totally belied their position in the league with a terrific whole hearted performance and they matched the home side for most of the game. It will not be long before they get some positive results if they play with this fire and skill. As for Bromley they will not want to remember the first half for long for a variety of reasons and will be proud of the way they responded in the second half. Although they scored three tries during that period with more clinical finishing they probably could have had three more. Special mention must go to George Scott with four tries and twenty points and Johnny Griffiths with one try and four conversions who between them scored all the points and both played and managed the game brilliantly. The first team have next week off before they travel to Crowborough who have made an excellent start to the season. This will be an extremely difficult fixture and Bromley will have to be at their very best to get anything out of the game.
Elsewhere, the seconds boarded the coach for a league fixture away to Ashford seconds. The twos have made a very good start to the season and continued this good form with a bonus point win of approximately 29-7. At home, the thirds had a friendly fixture against a Southwark Lancers XV. An enjoyable match ensued and although the boys went down 12-38 everybody contributed and heads did not drop. So encouraging to see three teams take the pitch, all with subs and this was with any number of senior players not being available for selection. There are no dedicated fixtures next Saturday but I am sure something will be organised during the week.