Old Wimbledonian Warriors starting XV: 15 Archie Brosch (capt); 14 Nathan Flannery, 13 Leon Davies, 12 Luca Buttaci, 11 Jaden Eguaibor; 10 Sonny Nicoll, 9 Harry Gibbons; 1 Neo Sibal, 2 Harry Whyman, 3 Harry Humphries, 4 Josh Fagan, 5 Padraig Finn, 6 Joe Scrivener, 7 Max Covill, 8 Caleb Acquah. Replacements: Luke Curtis; Christopher Graham-Ozanne; Charlie Hellings; Jayden Hutchings; Alex Paton; Chris Serra; Federico Willems. By Adrian Humphries EADS were held high in Dorking as the Old Wimbledonians U16s fought back to draw 12-12 with Effingham & Leatherhead in the final of the Surrey Proxime Waterfall President’s Cup on the first Sunday in April. Roger Brosch’s team, who had been pipped by the Eagles in the U14 President’s Cup final in Esher in 2017, were more than a match for Effingham & Leatherhead once they found their stride in the second half. Both sides were missing a couple of players due to Harlequins academy commitments - the Old Wimbledonians were denied the services of regular No. 8 Nathan Jibulu and occasional visitor Cassius Cleaves. But despite a slow start to this year’s title decider, one which was to ultimately cost the Warriors the chance to call themselves Surrey champions, the way the Old Wimbledonians performed in the wake of Roger’s half-time team talk suggests the Raynes Park side are still the best in the county when they’re on their game. The Warriors started the first of the season’s important finals playing downhill at the Big Field’s number one pitch. Effingham & Leatherhead were put under early pressure but Chris Sheasby’s Eagles fended off the Old Wimbledonians with some robust tackles, which were to become a feature of the clash. With the Warriors’ first attack unfortunately coming to nothing, the Eagles then pushed upfield themselves and crossed into the OWs’ half. After a few stops and starts, the Eagles kept possession well and deservedly notched the game’s opening try. A simple conversion gave E&L a 7-0 lead. The Warriors then pushed downhill again, but it was a nervy start from the OWs with basic handling, passing and timing errors committed. The lineouts were coming up short too and the Warriors desperately needed to get themselves played into the match. Sadly, the OWs’ second sortie fizzled out well before the Eagles’ tryline and the well-drilled E&L XV attacked again in the direction of the scarp just as a few drops of rain fell. H Following another Warriors lineout, which also didn’t go to plan, an Eagles player burst through and went close to crossing over. E&L pressed again but some resolute defending from the OWs, which has been one of this team’s many trademarks down the years, kept out their opponents. Warriors fans pitchside were understandably miffed that referee Gez Slann had either missed or failed to punish a total of three Eagles knock-ons. The Dorking RFC arbiter threatened punishment after spotting the second felony but, alas, the yellow card remained in his pocket. As the half-time whistle went a number of heads were down, but considering the Old Wimbledonians had achieved little of note in the first half they should have been delighted to be trailing by just one converted try. What a difference a break makes! The body language was immediately different on the resumption and after a quick-fire volley of purposeful attacks, orchestrated by the masterful Luca Buttaci at centre, stand-in No. 8 Caleb Acquah notched the OWs’ first try. Captain Archie Brosch kicked a beautiful conversion to make it 7-7 and finally the paying public (well, actually the car park attendant at Dorking RFC was nowhere to be seen) had a match on. Everything was now going right and the forwards were combining beautifully on the pitch. The Warriors’ pressure continued and with an Eagles player on the verge of being caught offside, Archie sensed the opportunity and went around the opponent with ease to touch down and give the OWs the lead for the first time at 7-12. The Warriors’ travelling army was ecstatic, but Effingham & Leatherhead’s response was immediate and after a clever kick-through with the OWs failing to safeguard the ball, the Eagles levelled at 12- 12. In the last quarter of the game, with the scores and the try count level, the Warriors were informed by organisers that the Eagles would take the title if it finished all square by virtue of Sheasby’s side having scored the opening try. The Warriors creditably pressed on in search of a winner. After a fine run from Jaden Eguaibor, who offloaded the ball beautifully to Archie - sadly the attack was not consummated - it was soulaffirming to hear an Eagles fan pitchside describe the passage of play as “great rugby”. With ten minutes remaining, Chris Serra replaced Nathan Flannery while Jayden Hutchings was given a runout at flanker - with Joe Scrivener moving to second row - when Padraig Finn sustained a leg injury. But try as they might, the valiant Warriors couldn’t breach the E&L defence one further time and the ref’s whistle went for the end of the match. The post-final man-of-the-match vote on the rugby union app Teamer was a solid one, with almost two-thirds pressing in favour of Luca. This echoed entirely the thoughts of head coach Roger, who said afterwards: "It was a superb effort from the Warriors, who played magnificently in the second half. The forwards, in particular, were brilliant after the interval and really took it to Effingham & Leatherhead. I’m very proud of the whole squad.” Result: Effingham & Leatherhead (7) 12 Old Wimbledonians (0) 12 Warriors scorers: Tries: Acquah, Brosch. Conversion: Brosch.