The Cannons hosted Old Haileyburians RFC at Fowler’s Wells for not only the reverse league fixture but also the semi final of their knock out competition giving added weight to the result. With changes in personnel for both sides and the added challenges Storm Dennis brought with it meant that it was always going to be a much tougher test than the previous one-sided affair.
The visitors kicked off into the wind and the Cannons quickly realised that possession would be key as the ball could not be gathered at first attempt. Old Haileyburians had some large ball carriers but the home side’s defence repelled their efforts time and again, before forcing the turn over and using the elements to clear to touch. The Cannons’ set piece was again dominate at scrum time and more than held its own at lineouts as Lol Perkins threw in accurately despite the blustery conditions. The home side opened the scoring from the tee as Steven Ball knocked over a penalty after the visitors didn’t release in the tackle. Chobham were not able to kick on though as the penalty count swung in the oppositions favour with the ruck being the source of many transgressions, allowing the visitors to progress upfield and alleviate pressure. Once the home side had reset mentally however and resorted to their game plan that had worked so well all season they gradually came back into the game. Strong carries from Sean Bellion, Tim Woods and Ben Puttock made inroads up the pitch and eventually earned a penalty. Having seen both sides’ kickers miss at the not-so-uprights a scrum was called and Adam Peever glided through the gap between 10 and 12 for the first five pointer of the afternoon. No further scores could be added before the break as the Cannons went in at half time with the scoreboard reading 8 – 0.
The second half saw a fast start from Old Haileyburians and they soon found themselves in the Cannons’ 22. Although repeated waves of attacked were forced back, the visitors eventually made it over to open their account for the afternoon. With Cannons debutant Paddy Mooney and Chobham new recruit Jordan Lucas now in the back row the home side put pressure on the opposition’s handling and repeatedly forced errors from them. From one breakdown turn over the Cannons’ backline trusted their own passing skills and Alex Julian was released down the right hand touchline to score under the posts. With Peever adding the extras the home side extended the lead, turning it into a two score lead at 15-5. Old Haileyburians were not going to go into their shells however and kept attacking the Cannons. A pivotal moment came with a scrum five metres out from the try line after a clever kick upfield. The pack held firm and the OHs number eight couldn’t make the line. Disciplined defence kept the visitors at bay until a crucial tip in the tackle allowed the Cannons to clear their 22. From the resulting lineout Adam Pickett turned over the ball and after a strong run from Nieem Khan and interplay with Peever, Julian went over for his second, and the team’s third, try of the day.
The Cannons struck again soon after to secure the bonus point win with a well worked move from a scrum seeing Peever match Julian’s brace for the afternoon. Final score 25 – 5.
Chobham remain top of the Surrey Championship table and now take their place in the final if the Surrey Reserve Cup where they will play either, next weekend’s opponents, KCS Old Boys or Old Reigatians.
Man of the match: Adam Peever
Players’ player: Ben Puttock