A great performance needed to overcome a resilient Cranleigh
By Niel Kenny
PJF produce best performance of the season
On a bright sunny afternoon at the Pightle, PJF welcomed Cranleigh for a top of the table clash. PJF kitted out in their new strip bearing the logo of the team shirt sponsor Fulham Timber were looking forward to a tough uncompromising game. The game kicked of and PJF started off at a tremendous pace that caught Cranleigh completely by surprise. The ball was swung across the backs very quickly and the first try came in the corner as Joe Dwyer took the scoring pass to cross out wide before making his way towards the posts, eventually dabbing down about 20 metres in from the corner. Massimo Gangemi adding the extra points. From the restart PJF returned to the attack denying Cranleigh any ball. After another great passing move Lewis Dennelly tore over in the opposite corner after 9 minutes. The re start saw PJF pour forward again and on the Cranleigh 10m line they conceded a penalty which captain Iain Greenwood kicked 10m out from the corner. From the resulting maul PJFs forwards drove over for the third try of the game. It looked as though the visitors were in desperate straights having conceded a try on each wing and then the third to a driving maul up the middle and the game was only 20minute old. As a measure of the quality of rugby being played by PJF we had not yet had a single scrum. Massimo added the two points to give PJF a 19-0 lead.
Cranleigh restarted and turned the ball over. At last they had some possession and an opportunity to put some pressure of their own on the PJF line. A period of scrappy play saw Cranleigh concede a penalty in PJF's 22m but a miskick from the penalty didn't make touch and the ball was falling for the Cranleigh wing which would have left Cranleigh with a 3 against 0ne opportunity, however Massimo, following up quickly leapt and snatched the ball away from the waiting arms of the Cranleigh player with the catch of the game, the threat was nullified. However Cranleigh continued to press and PJF were beginning to make errors as Cranleigh had learnt to increase their defensive line speed. In the set scrums Cranleigh had the clear edge and eventually Cranleigh won a penalty on the PJF 5m line. Sam Arnold was yellow carded the result of coming in the side in the red zone and a previous series of penalties conceded by PJF. From the resulting scrum the eight men of Cranleigh drove the seven man PJF pack over the line for their first try. The kick was missed. With 5 minutes left in the half Cranleigh applied the pressure but could not break through and the half came to a close with PJF leading 19-5.
The second half started and Cranleigh were soon back on the attack and with PJF still with a man still in the bin conceded a lineout in their 22m. From the line out Cranleigh formed the driving maul and drove over for their second try. This time the conversion was made and the scoreline was 19-12 , Cranleigh's heads were up and the game was on. The pressure on the PJF line did not relent and after another drive deep into the PJF 22m a Cranleigh player made a half break and after the defensive tackle fell away the Cranleigh player skipped in under the PJF's posts. The kick was made and the match was all square. PJF decided to change their pattern of play and tighten up. The forwards picking and going and the backs coming back into the forwards and slowly PJF managed to drive into the Cranleigh 22m and from one phase of play PJF won a penalty and the resulting kick at goal was slotted by Seaghan Davey to restore a PJF lead. Cranleigh's heads appeared to drop a little having spent an enormous effort in getting back on par they then see the opposition move away again. There followed a wonderful piece of individual play when Declan Williams took a ball in PJF's 22m along with the close attention of a Cranleigh player, Declan shrugged of the challenge of the Cranleigh player and instead of kicking out of the 22m he had the vision to set of down field at pace, he stepped another challenge and used the width of the pitch to make 50m before kicking past the last of the Cranleigh defence and chasing hard to touch down just before the ball rolled over the dead ball line. The kick was missed, but PJF now had an 8 point buffer. After the restart PJF worked hard and the effort paid off when they were awarded another penalty on the edge of the Cranleigh 22m and Seaghan Davey neatly slotted the kick. A few minutes later another kick through saw Declan follow up swiftly and with two Cranleigh players missing the ball on the line Declan was adjudged to have applied downward pressure first and PJF had all but wrapped the game up. Seaghan added the extra points.
Credit to Cranleigh they came back at PJF and almost got a bonus point try only to be denied with a great piece of determination from Chase Thompson as he dropped on the ball bobbling around the PJF line and a Cranleigh player about to pounce, having gathered the ball he got to his feet in one movement and stood up in the tackle which allowed the support to rally around to secure the ball and PJF cleared their line. The final minutes ticked away and the final whistle announced the end of the game and a great team win by PJF. The game had everything, great tries with PJF running up a quick 19 point lead in as many minutes, a Cranleigh fight back to 19-19 then PJF working out the play and changing up to move away again and run out winners 37-19. Every player in the PJF side deserves congratulations for a really good performance. Cranleigh also have to be congratulated for their contribution to a fantastic game of rugby.