Match Report from James Cole : Chobham U15s 21-22 Beaconsfield U15s
A last-gasp try saw Beaconsfield edge-out Chobham in a pulsating friendly with a thrilling finish at Fowlers-Wells on Sunday.
Despite the home team dominating possession and territory, Beaconsfield hung-on, dug deep and stole the win two minutes from time.
Chobham, held-up over the line in the last play of the game, were left to rue missed opportunities – including a kickable penalty in the dying moments.
The hosts started well. Straight from the kick-off a 60-metre break from skipper Sam Riley put his team firmly on the front foot.
Having been held-up over the line, Chobham then took their second chance. A simple switch between fly-half Sam Davies and Riley saw the prop power over. Davies converted for a 7-0 lead.
A mistake from the restart though – followed by some soft missed tackles – immediately let Beaconsfield back into the game. Camped in Chobham’s twenty-two, the Bucks side’s fly-half made an arcing run, beating several would-be-tacklers on his way to the line. The conversion was missed. Chobham led 7-5 after 6 minutes.
For much of the remainder of the first-half Chobham dominated possession but couldn’t make it count. With several players playing out of position, their struggle for structure was understandable. Their poor decision-making, though, wasn’t. Aimless kicking and inaccurate passing handed possession back to the visitors on more than one occasion.
Nonetheless the home side led 14-5 at the break thanks to a try from fullback Ryan Lees. Once again it was simplicity that produced the score. From an attacking scrum twenty-two metres out, a dummy-switch in midfield and quick handling from the backline teed-up Lees. The fullback clinically finished the overlap on the right hand-side. The tough conversion was slotted by Davies from the five-metre line.
Chobham now had daylight – but not control.
Beaconsfield’s second try was controversial. Both referee and touch-judge failed to spot a clear knock-on in the build-up. Nonetheless, Chobham can only blame themselves. Despite plenty of chances to clear the danger they failed to do so, only to then throw an interception pass on their own five-metre line. It was a Halloween horror show that allowed the visitors back in the game at a crucial juncture. The conversion was excellent. Seven minutes into the second half, Chobham’s lead had been cut to 14-12.
More chances then went begging for the hosts. The best of them saw Riley knock-on with the try line beckoning, following an incisive break from centre Felix Connolly. It was a frustrating 10 minutes for Chobham which culminated in Beaconsfield stealing the ball under their own posts and running the length of the field. Only a superb cover-tackle by Lees prevented the try.
The pressure, though, eventually told. Johnson’s clearance kick didn’t find touch. The chase from the home team was poor and Beaconsfield’s fullback returned it with interest, capitalising on some porous defending to give his side the lead for the first time in the game; 14-17 was now the difference.
Meanwhile Chobham’s three under-14s – Josh Macco, Alex Antal and Felix Connolly – were impressing and looking comfortable playing up an age-group. It was, therefore, a just-reward when, eight minutes from time, Connolly crossed for Chobham’s third try.
With a Beaconsfield player sin-binned for killing the ball, Chobham made the extra man count. George Jones caught the defence napping with a quick-tap penalty, Riley provided the decoy — Connolly provided the finish. Another excellent conversion – this time from Alfie Johnson wide on the right-hand touchline – gave Chobham a 21-17 lead.
From here, Chobham should have shut the game out. But instead, they left the door ajar – and Beaconsfield duly prized it open.
The home side’s inability to clear their lines left them defending wave after wave of Beaconsfield attack. Direct running from the visitors and some good continuity at the breakdown created the winning try. It was finished by a forward around the fringe of the ruck — but this was a true team effort. It gave Beaconsfield a slender 22-21 lead. However with 2 minutes remaining Chobham still had time to win the game.
They did everything right. The kick went deep. Possession was regained. A penalty was even won. But with Chobham having elected to run the ball, prop Macco carried superbly only to be held-up over the line. For the hosts it was an agonising end to a game they will feel they could have – and should have – won.
Special mentions should go to man of the match Samuel Davies George Jones and also Nick Liley who both tackled relentlessly throughout. Dan Siddeeq also impressed by continually beating the first man to get his team on the front foot, while Sam Riley was his usual rampaging self.
Chobham will take plenty of positives – not least from the fact that they had several players playing out of position. Nonetheless they will be all too aware that poor decision-making and execution ultimately cost them, in a tight, hard-fought contest.
Match Report: James Cole