Battersea Ironsides 55 Farnham 14: High-riding Farnham suffered a big Regional 2 South East defeat when they travelled to Battersea Ironsides.

After a weekend off, they had hoped to maintain the gap between themselves and the teams below.

But those hopes went out of the window after a crushing defeat.

But they can dust themselves of and go again as, with the season at the halfway stage, Farnham remain second in the league.

This Saturday they travel to local rivals Guildford, who they pipped 30-23 back in September – but they know this will be a tense encounter with a resurgent side who are unbeaten in their past three games.

Despite Battersea being a tough place to visit with an incurably soft pitch a distant walk from the clubhouse, the Black and Whites were confident, having won there last season.

That confidence seemed well placed after the open exchanges – but the final result was not what the Farnham boys had hoped for.

Battersea kicked off with the breeze behind them and Farnham started the game well. Toby Salmon latched on to a loose Battersea pass and broke away before being scragged to the ground.

However, the ubiquitous Toby Comley was on hand to receive the offload and stride into the corner.

The conversion was successful.

After this perfect start, Farnham maintained the momentum, pinged Battersea in their own half and were rewarded with a penalty.

Farnham kicked to the corner and the rolling maul from the line out set up Jonny Vincent to break away and charge over the line. Another successful conversation and Farnham were 14-0 up after ten minutes.

Battersea, forever a nuggety club, came back hard and pushed Farnham back into their 22 with a number of strong carries.

Discipline then cost Farnham. Back-to-back yellow cards meant Farnham had to endure ten minutes with just 13 men.

Battersea capitalised and scored three tries in this period to take the lead 19-14.

Farnham were back to their full 15 for only a matter of minutes before Tim Salmon was adjudged to have tackled high and was carded.

Farnham managed to cling on until the half-time whistle with the score staying at 19-14.

With the breeze behind them, Farnham were confident they would get back into the game quickly.

Perhaps over-confident, a couple of individual handling errors allowed Battersea to score more well-executed tries.

The Black and Whites were then disrupted by a couple of injuries, but the fresh legs from the bench actually made an impact. Finisher Matt Farnes put Tim Salmon through a hole, but he lost the ball just short of the line.

A late tackle reduced Battersea to 14 and Farnham pushed for a score. Hard carries from Oscar Henderson and Ben Adams – who was making his 100th first XV appearance – pushed Farnham close to the line but Battersea withstood the pressure.

Much has been said about the famous Farnham “D”, but in this match, Ironsides proved the Black and Whites do not hold the defensive monopoly.

Over the final 15 minutes, Farnham pushed to create opportunities only to be turned over at the last gasp, allowing Ironsides to break out and score twice more.

The final play of the game typified the match. Farnham were on the Ironsides’ line when the pass was intercepted and the full back raced the length of the pitch to dot down in the corner.

So 55-14 the final score – and a disappointing afternoon came to an end.

Toby Salmon