May 24 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Campion 24 Old Cooperians 19
Campion claimed their 14th straight win of the season after another absorbing derby to move 13 points clear at the top of the table at Cottons Park.
Their forwards had provided the foundation for a 20-15 victory when the two sides met at St Mary’s Lane in October and pack strength proved key once again as they completed a local double in the return.
Campion stalwart Stephen Canny and Cooperians Pat Reed tussled on the ground inside the very first minute and play swung from end to an end as the two sides sought to gain the upper hand in an exciting opening.
The home side were first on the scoreboard after winning a lineout in their own half, as fly-half Matt Buchan made a good break and found James Jenkins, who sent Dan Walshe on to touch down by the left-hand post.
Buchan converted for a 7-0 lead, but Campion hit straight back with a superb solo effort in the right corner by Matt Corner, which went unconverted.
The visitors turned down a kickable penalty soon after in favour of a quick tap but the move backfired as Campion turned the ball over deep in their 22 and ran it back upfield.
Tackling was ferocious throughout, befitting a battle for local bragging rights, and Campion extended their lead when Luke Andrew and Dan McEvoy made progress on the left and Lee Fitzmaurice squeezed over from close range.
Buchan’s conversion made it 14-5 but excellent work at the breakdown by Fatjon Qela allowed Cooperians to force a turnover deep in Campion territory.
Carter then spun a looping pass out to speedy winger Kolade Awlbowale to scamper in on the right and a successful Joe Bilton conversion closed the gap to two points.
Buchan pushed a penalty chance to the right of the posts as Campion, playing down the slope, looked to end the first half on a high.
The returning James Ngan and Charles Bauer were stopped short of the line, before McEvoy knocked on.
And more dogged defensive work from Cooperians denied Canny and Luke Tilly under the posts on the stroke of half-time.
Campion’s Dan Bolton made a strong run for the right corner early in the second half, but Cooperians won the resulting lineout and scrum-half Michael Dennis found a good touch from his own line.
The home side remained on the front foot, but Buchan missed another penalty attempt before Tilly was held up over the line from a lineout catch and drive move.
The pressure eventually told, though, as Campion’s pack pushed their rivals back and Ngan touched down at the base to make it 19-12.
And when Carter kicked the ball out of play under more pressure soon after, Campion’s forwards secured their own lineout and pushed once more, for Canny to ground the ball and widen the gap to a dozen points.
Cooperians saw a great chance go begging when Harry Fayers fumbled a crossfield kick with the line at his mercy, but a great break and offload sent Awlbowale in at the right corner and Bilton’s conversion from wide out offered late hope.
Time was almost up, though, and the visitors had to content themselves with a losing bonus point and now have Dagenham breathing down their necks in the race for the runners-up spot.
They are due to meet on March 9, by which time Campion could have clinched the title at Clacton next weekend.