Rusty Warlingham are left looking relegation square in the face

No fitness: Ben Stobart praised the Warl lads for

No fitness: Ben Stobart praised the Warl lads for "playing their hearts out"

First published in Rugby Union by

Warlingham took to the pitch for the first time in five weeks and their rustiness and lack of match fitness showed in this vital league game at Aylesford. 

With the list of long-term injuries growing, Warlingham's pack still gave the home side some trouble in the first 50 minutes and deserved more from the pressure they exerted on the Bulls try line.

With captain Zac King and number eight Tom Street inevitably making yards in the loose and flanker John Dowling tackling hard the Warlingham pack took the game deep into Bulls' territory time and again but the final passes were fumbled and the Bulls defence held firm.

In the end, a 33-12 defeat leaves Warlingham third from bottom of London Division Two South East.

Coach Ben Stobart said: "The lack of match fitness showed today. We were well in the game until the last quarter when we struggled with injuries.

"The boys played their hearts out but we just need to get match fit - and quick."

A penalty straight from the kick off gave the home side a prefect start and although Warlingham's pick and drive was working well, a dropped pass in the centre gave the Bulls' back line an opportunity to hack forward and they won the chase over the line for their first converted try.

Warlingham fought back and a half break by outside half James Agate gave Warlingham a chance.

Again the pick and drive worked and hooker Antony Abou-Zeid scored his first try for the club, with centre Brad Saffery converting from a wide angle.

Warlingham's injuries worsened when Finnish international forward Mikal Ahola left the pitch with a hamstring injury.

Full back Adam Downie-Keene earned his fellow players' respect with a fine try-saving tackle when he scythed down the Bulls centre who looked certain to cross the try line.

Despite further incursions deep into the Bulls half, Warlingham were thwarted by desperate home defence.

At the half time turn round Warlingham were a good bet to secure some league points.

However a brace a well taken penalties and a second try from a dash through the midfield gave Bulls a three score lead and Warlingham were struggling for the remaining 20 minutes when winger Jack Atkinson, prop Kieran Scutt and prop Simon Townsend had to leave the pitch injured.

Warlingham's woes were compounded when Tom Street was controversially yellow carded for an innocuous alleged offence.

During Street's absence the Bulls whipped out a quick ball to the left flank for their third try but when Street returned to the fray the pick and drive was utilised again and the ubiquitous Abou-Zeid crashed over for his second score.

With the game drawing to a close Bulls scored their fourth, bonus-point try and Warlingham were left to count their walking wounded and rally their players for the difficult run in to the end of the season.

Next Saturday, Warlingham host Medway and the game will be watched by more than 150 former players who attend their annual golden oldies lunch who will hope to raise the players' efforts.

Warlingham: Townsend, Abou-Zeid, Scutt, Boufaied, Ahola, King, Dowling, Street, Murtagh, Agate, Saffery, Skinner, Kenny, Atkinson, Downie-Keene, Ray, Ioannou, Davies.


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