A magnificently committed performance came close to gaining a surprise win for Cranbrook against a team in recent years they always lose away to, sometimes heavily, at the well-appointed ground they share with Hayes Cricket Club.
After a rainy couple of days, the heavy cloud did not suggest a dry afternoon, but the sun sneaked through and with little wind of significance conditions for the game were and remained good, albeit the ball was a bit slippery.
Cranbrook looked as if they were able to select a strong pack albeit the backs were mainly very youthful. This meant they were able to look solid in the scrums and lineouts, but crucially the addition of Guy Couchman at No8 made them much more competitive around the fringes. As such in what proved to be a well-balanced game probably the decisive factors were the greater fluency of the home backs and the ability of the home 9 to attack from tapped penalties and to interfere with Cranbrook scrum ball without penalty when the Cranbrook 9 Ollie Addis appeared to be given less leeway by the referee Les Tudd, who otherwise managed the game ok but struggled for mobility with an injured calf in the second half. Under this pressure Addis stood up manfully.
Fabian Rimmer, kicking off downhill, opened the scoring after 3 minutes with a close range penalty after Bromley went offside and added to it from similar range on 13 minutes after a high tackle.
Bromley took the lead when receiving a penalty a few metres out. A quick tap by the 9 led to him scoring towards the corner, impressively converted.
Cranbrook retook the lead on 28 minutes when after good forward phases, left wing Anthony Andrews made ground, the recycled ball was moved right where good hands put Luca Rosenberg clear, he showed pace and evasiveness to score, the conversion just missing.
The lead did not last long as Rimmer, by way of variation as the back three had been laying deep, cleared with an up and under to around the halfway line. On this occasion the chase, which up to now had been good, was almost non-existent and the home backs skilfully moved the ball right, left, and right again to score convincingly, again converted.
Cranbrook with the slope were having plenty of possession and forced Bromley to concede at least 4 penalties within the 22, but perhaps surprisingly no card came. On one such occasion after 35 minutes Cranbrook decided to call a scrum about 10 metres out, from a tackle a ruck formed and prop David Lock as first receiver had enough muscle and a surprising turn of pace to score, Rimmer converting. Soon Cranbrook were back on the attack showing good phase work gaining ground. A hand in the ruck gave Rimmer the chance to extend the lead from 35 metres which he took. Just before halftime more Cranbrook pressure resulted in Rimmer collecting a long looped pass about 20 metres out. He sidestepped out of a tackle and had enough strength to withstand other tacklers to score and convert for a 14-28 halftime score.
It was expected that Bromley would have more territory with the slope in the second half but as Cranbrook were playing with determination there was no immediate line pressure and the excellent Crouchmam managed to execute a turnover to quell one attack. It was disappointing when a penalty was awarded for a lazy offside at the ruck, the no 9 again took a tapped penalty and again scored which was again converted. Another set of phases of play by Bromley led to a scoring pass being knocked on as the try lined beckoned, retaining position Bromley came again whereupon Owen Chilvers made a fine try saving tackle but took a knock to the head meaning he had to be substituted along with Captain Hamish Gillanders whose shoulder was injured. A reorganisation was necessary, but the attacking move from Bromley was ended by a fine turnover by Andrews and a clearance to halfway by Addis. Now Cranbrook had some phases and Bromley were reduced to 14 by a high tackle. As well as Cranbrook were playing, they did not quite have the fluency or guile that Bromley possessed when moving the ball, being intercepted a couple of times with telegraphed passes, so did not come very close to scoring.
There were perhaps 10 minutes left when the Bromley 9 scored from another tapped penalty, and they retook the lead with just 7 minutes remaining after good offloading.
Cranbrook had territory for the last few minutes of the game and although putting together some solid phases did not create any chances as Bromley, with some relief, closed the game out.
Coach Chris Catt believed this tenacious showing full of energy was another improvement and will add to the belief of the team who noticeably achieved parity in most areas of the game against one of the better teams in the league.
Next week is a rest weekend, a return to action is at home to Heathfield on 4th November with the earlier 2.30 kick off as the clocks will have unnecessarily been put back next weekend.
The team was 1 J Yeomans, 2 J Pankhurst, 3 D Lock, 4 T Hamplett, 5 J Forknall, 6 T Humphreys, 7 H Gillanders, 8 G Couchman, O Addis, 10 O Chilvers, 11 A Andrews, 12 F Rimmer, 13 J Lewes, 14 A Stemp, 15 L Rosenberg, 16 M Stockman for Gillanders 55 mins, 17 D Houghton-Judge for Chilvers 55 mins, though playing 2nd row and Forknall going into the backs.
Match report by Philip Rimmer