Farnham Rugby Club picked up another bonus point as they fell to a narrow 24-17 defeat at home to Guildford in Regional Two South Central on Saturday.

Farnham welcomed local rivals Guildford to Monkton Lane for the penultimate home game of the season.

Farnham handed a first first team start to academy graduate Jeff Leybourne while welcoming back Mike Salmon into the centres to add a balance of experience. The backline was made up of the exciting three of Toby Simmons, Jack Scullion and Max Williams.

Farnham kicked off with the breeze behind them and started the game well. An early defensive set put pressure on Guildford, who failed to clear their lines and gave Farnham a lineout ten metres out. The attack was patient, moving Guildford side to side, but the well drilled Guildford defence held firm up to the point they conceded a penalty in front of their posts. Farnham took the opportunity to open the scoring with Toby Salmon kicking over the first three points of the afternoon to put Farnham 3-0 up.

The siege gun boot of Scullion gave Farnham excellent territory with most of his touch-finders gaining some 50 metres. Guildford were winning the set piece battle with their scrum and rolling maul proving very effective. Farnham had the ball in the Guildford 22 when a turnover allowed Guildford to break out through their backs. The Farnham scramble defence was excellent but not good enough to stop the ball from being recycled and moved wide to the left where the visitors’ full back scored the first try. The conversion was missed, but Guildford led 5-3.

Both defences proved hard to break down. Guildford thought they had scored their second try, however Scullion managed to tackle the visiting player into touch before getting the ball down. Half-time followed shortly afterwards with all still to play for in the second period with just two points separating the teams.

Guildford kicked off the second half with Farnham eager to play a more expansive game in the next 40 minutes. A kick to the corner presented the home side’s first opportunity but a knock on at the maul halted the momentum. Guildford made them pay with a maul of their own sucking the Farnham players in before moving the ball wide to score their second try. The successful conversion put Guildford 12-3 ahead.

Farnham’s efforts to get back in the game were led by numerous carries from forwards Jonny Vincent and Jemi Akin-Olugbade. George Bellamy came on for his first team debut with Callum Jones and Sam Woodhams also coming on and making an impact. Guildford scored their next try from a rolling maul with 15 minutes to go. The visitors led 19-3 and had some breathing room.

However, Farnham did not give up. The ball was moved wide where Williams brilliantly finished off in the corner to give Farnham a chance. The conversion was successful, and the score was 19-10 with eight minutes to play. Guildford responded almost immediately with another rolling maul score which gave them a bonus point try. The conversion was missed, but the visitors now led 24-10.

Farnham refused to lie down and again moved the ball to the left through Toby Salmon and Reece Stennett, who released Williams who again finished brilliantly and ran the ball under the posts for his second score and the Black and White’s treasured losing bonus point. The conversion was successful, and the score was 24-17 with two minutes to play.

The home faithful urged Farnham on, sensing a remarkable comeback. Attacking from their own 22, Mike Salmon broke the line and produced a superb offload to find Simmons, who stormed into the Guildford 22. Sadly, his final offload didn’t find a Farnham hand and the ball was turned over. Guildford managed the last moments of the game well and hoofed the ball off the park to signal full time and run out 24-17 winners.

A spirited effort from Farnham who didn’t give up and came away with another precious bonus point. Farnham are in seventh place in the Regional Two South Central and face a long away trip to 11th-placed Salisbury on Saturday for their penultimate game of the season.