Welcome back to Fowler’s Wells for our 12th and penultimate home game of the season and our 24th game in total.
Well, we have to start with the 6 Nations “Super Saturday” and what an exciting climax it was. In evidence was loads of commitment, confidence in abundance, bags of ambition and some pretty poor defending as a “W” and tries were the order of the day for Wales, Ireland and England. It was surprising in such a pressured environment how well all three teams played in their quest for the championship, but in the end Ireland, marginally the best team over the tournament in my view, came out on top.
So any parallels with London 1S? Last week was very interesting if not quite as final as the 6N, with the top four of Wimbledon, S&E, Sidcup and ourselves all in opposition. Down in Kent, Chob found themselves very much behind the 8 ball with half an hour played. Despite playing with a stiff breeze at our backs, we were well off the pace with most aspects of our game struggling to fire. Against such direct and well drilled opposition as Sidcup, this meant only one thing and that was we were behind, 12-0 to be exact. In fact it could have been a bit more but for a couple of missed penalties into the wind. This is where your coaching team and senior player group come into their element particularly when there are four guys under 20 in the changing room. Any chill in our veins from the biting northerly wind was quickly dispersed by the stirringly strong half time words led by Tony and Ryan. Their feedback was harsh, to the point and challenging with the objectives for the second half very clearly laid out to the squad. Pleasingly the group responded with a vastly improved second half display and with Alex’s boot chipping away, Sidcup lost some of their pace and direction allowing us to squeeze hard just when it mattered. With Ollie’s try giving us a narrow lead we then managed the game well, although Sidcup could have nicked it with the last kick, but a wind assisted long range penalty sailed just wide. So a close one but what really impressed me was the squad’s response in the second half and particularly how we grabbed the match very firmly to assert ourselves by playing in the right areas and stopping Sidcup behind the gain line. At the end of the day we were playing the team one place below us who are a talented outfit and we are not going turn up and beat a side of that calibre by 20 points. So to eke out a win away, when 12 points down shows huge maturity and self-confidence and belief which has been growing game by game during the season. Our delight increased a notch or two when we heard that S&E had won at Wimbledon to keep the title race wide open and our destiny for a top two spot very firmly in our own hands. The bus home was happy!
Of course before then, we achieved a home win against another decent outfit in Brighton. Despite moving into a clear leading position on several occasions, Brighton refused to lie down and pushed us hard and it’s clear that they are finding the form that took them up to 3rd place last year. Let’s hope they take that resurgence into their home match today against Wimbledon.
So to today and our visitors Charlton Park who we welcome to Fowlers Wells for the very first time. We had a win in December down in south London but Park have had an encouraging first year in level 6 and have run the top sides close. As ever, Ryan and Tony will have the guys focussed and raring to go to keep up the pressure on those around us in the league table.
We’ve three massive games left in this defining period as we strive for National League rugby and we look forward to our magnificent touchline continuing to provide fantastic support for us. The players are hugely appreciative of your encouragement and let’s hope you can cheer us onto victory as our 16th man.
Come on CHOBHAAM!!
Nigel Guy, Chobham RFC Director of Rugby