Old Walcountains storm into the last eight of the RFU Junior Vase

Old Walcountians stormed into the divisional quarter finals of the RFU Junior Vase after a convincing 32-5 win over US Portsmouth of Hampshire League One.

Despite the horrendous conditions at the Clock House of Saturday, the Counts restricted their visitors to a single score.

Walcountians were reinforced by the appearance of five members of the club’s highly successful U21 side and had too much firepower at their disposal for the Services side to cope with.

They were in front in the opening minute when the pack recycled the ball from a ruck in the Pompey 22, and swung the ball wide for hooker Rob Fleming to touch down in the corner.

Walcountians had pace to burn behind the scrum with half-backs Tom and Will Diamond and centre Eddy Ryan hard to contain.

However, the platform for dominance was laid in the pack where solid scrummaging from props Dan Bell and Steve Cowlin, dominant line-out jumping by locks Dom Bell and Will Thornton, and the combative efforts of flankers Remy Claustres and Jack South gave the Old Boys the lion’s share of the ball. Walcountians went further ahead 12 minutes into the game when the pack rolled a maul over the Pompey line for number eight Simon Fowler to touch down.

The visitors provided stout resistance for a while and strong driving play by their forwards with number eight Matt Alexander outstanding, supported by intelligent tactical kicking by scrum-half Chris Wapshott, forced the Old Boys to defend their line.

But, as the first half drew to a close, Walcountians struck twice more to give themselves a 20-point cushion at the break.

The first came from Simon Fowler who ripped through the heart of the Pompey defence to score his second try of the day after 30 minutes.

The second came five minutes later when Will Diamond used his scalding pace to open up the visitors’ defence and give winger James Tutton the opportunity to run in his fifth try of the season.

Pompey took advantage of the strong following wind in the second half and began to drive Walcountians back into their own half.

Difficulty in keeping the ball in hand in the wet conditions and solid Walcountians defending kept them at bay until the 14th minute when they finally made a breakthrough, and winger Tom Perring touched down after drifting away from Walcountians’ defensive line.

Just as concerns arose about Walcountians holding onto their lead, they demonstrated their ability to turn a half chance into scoring opportunities and sealed victory with two late tries.

The first came after 25 minutes when Tom Diamond exploited a loose pass which had gone to ground by booting it upfield and winning the race to touch down for a try converted by full-back Ross Norton.

Five minutes later, the Diamond brothers were to the fore again when Will Diamond opened up the Pompey defence after taking a tap penalty and found twin brother Tom in support to outpace the remaining defenders and touch down for a try.

Walcountians have no further competitive games until January 11 when they take on Battersea Ironsides at Clock House (kick-off 2:15pm).

Old Walcountians: Norton, Tutton, Ryan, South (F), Naylor, Diamond (T), Diamond (W), Bell (Dan), Fleming, Cowlin (S), Bell (Dom), Thornton, Claustres, South (J), Fowler.

Subs: Baker, Cowlin (P), Harrison, Stone.

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