Mitcham put up spirited fightback to secure another season in Surrey Division Three (From Surrey Comet)
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Mitcham put up spirited fightback to secure another season in Surrey Division Three
9:33pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in Other Rugby
By Edward Macklin
Mitcham produced a spirited and committed display at Poulter Park to fight back and draw 19-19 against promotion-chasing Guildfordians.
And, in doing so, virtually secured their Surrey Division Three status for another season.
Knocks picked up by both wingers in the warm up hampered Mitcham for most of the game but both replacements Billy French and Alex Treagust performed admirably.
Sitting third in the table, Guildfordians started off the stronger pinning Mitcham back in their own 22.
Mitcham did not help themselves by giving away penalties and it was from a quick penalty that Guildfordians penetrated the Mitcham line to take an early lead.
Mitcham finally got into the game and were desperately unlucky not to take the lead following two disallowed tries.
Firstly winger French weaved his way past the opposition defence but the referee deemed that he had been held up over the line.
Within five minutes, Mark Whittall also broke through the Guildfordians defence but was also help up over the line.
It was even more unfortunate that Guildfordians broke away from the resulting scrum and scored their second try to take a 12-0 lead into half time.
Mitcham looked like a new team in the second half taking the game to the opposition and giving their pack a hard time and closing down the space for their free running backs.
A Mitcham move from the back of the scrum saw Ryan Jones break away and feed fly half Liam Dewsbury who in turn put in Neville Moriarty to score under the posts - Dewsbury converted.
This rejuvenated Mitcham who forced Guildfordians into giving away penalties.
From one taken quickly, Whittall - now playing on the wing following an injury to George Howe - stormed his way over the line to level the scores. Dewsbury hit a fine conversion to give Mitcham a 14-12 lead.
As the last quarter approached it was end to end stuff with both sides going for the next try.
Some neat play by the Guildfordians fly half saw him skip away for the first time from the solid Mitcham defence to score. The conversion meant Mitcham needed a try to get back into the game.
Following some concerted forward play, number eight Steve Bartlett barged over to score from close range to tie the scores and send the vociferous crowd on the touchline into raptures.
Dewsbury was desperately unlucky only to hit the post with the conversion from near the touchline.
The last 10 minutes saw both sides go for the win and following a succession of forward drives 5m out Guildfordians were kept out by some heroic Mitcham defence lead by new flanker Andy Cunliffe.
However, it was Mitcham that nearly snatched victory when impressive Whittall chased his kick only to be inexplicably penalised as a Guildfordians player lay on the ball near his own goal line.
Mitcham travel to Battersea Park to play London Media, who have the same amount of points, on Saturday.